Last reviewed 13 July 2021

Glasgow Caledonian University research on suicide statistics from 2015 to 2019 has shown that the number per 100,000 for construction workers rose from 26 to 29 in the four years to 2019. However, unskilled workers, such as labourers, have seen their rate rise from 48 to just over 73 suicides per 100,000.

Those working in non-manual occupations, such as managers and professionals, have lower rates, which have seen an overall drop from just under seven in 2015, to just under five per 100,000 in 2019.

Commissioned by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, the study shows no change in historical ratios, with those in the construction industry three times more likely to take their own life than in other sectors.

The findings identified variations between certain occupational groups, as indicated above.

The research, led by Professor Billy Hare, has helped to develop a “dashboard”, which identifies measurable data on construction safety, health and wellbeing.

It will be updated yearly, allowing industry organisations, policy makers and researchers to view trends, track the progress of industry initiatives and inform future decision making.

Lighthouse CEO Bill Hill said: “It is worrying that our support is not reaching the ‘boots on the ground’ workforce. This could be because about 53% of our workforce are self-employed, agency or zero hour contractors and we are simply not getting our message down the supply chain”.

Even more worrying, he went on, is that these statistics are pre-Covid and the full impact of the pandemic will not be revealed until further data are released in October of this year.

Professor Hare said: “This occupational group (unskilled workers) is usually higher than average for suicides, but the sharp rise and widening gap over the period analysed, in contrast to their non-manual colleagues, is concerning and may indicate recent initiatives are not reaching these more vulnerable sectors of the industry”.

Lighthouse has been providing emotional and wellbeing support through three main channels including its free 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline, a supporting helpline app and free wellbeing training.

See also Mates in Mind, a charity raising awareness of and promoting mental health, particularly in construction.