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454 hard hats laid out to represent construction suicides

454 hard hats laid out at the Leeds College of Building to represent the number of construction workers who commit suicide every year (Image courtesy of IronmongeryDirect)

A total of 454 hard hats have been laid out at a building site to represent the number of construction workers who die from suicide each year.

The exhibition, organised by IronmongeryDirect to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) aims to highlight the issue of suicide in the sector, with male construction workers three times more likely to die from suicide than the average UK man.

The collection of hard hats was displayed at the Leeds College of Building to visualise the scale of the suicide problem within the construction industry.

A report by IronmongeryDirect found that nearly half (49%) of construction workers experience poor mental health due to work-related issues. It also found that nearly three in five (58%) deal with mental health problems at least once per week, with finances the biggest cause of stress. Some 38% of tradespeople saying that money contributed to issues with their mental health.

As part of its campaign, IronmongeryDirect has partnered with the mental health charity, Mind, and donated £5,000 to support it.

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It has also donated 100 hard hats used in the display to the Leeds College of Building to hand out to its students.

Emma Mamo, head of workspace wellbeing at Mind, said: “We know that issues like stress, anxiety and depression are common in all workplaces, but that there are some sectors where poor mental health is even more prevalent, including construction.

“Because men generally find it more difficult to talk about how they’re feeling, in male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.

“We’re pleased to be working with IronmongeryDirect during Mental Health Awareness Week to launch our ‘Mental Health in the Trades’ report highlighting the scale of poor mental health across the sector, and urging employers within construction to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”

Marco Verdonkschot, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “It’s heart-breaking to hear the statistics – on average, at least one construction worker dies from suicide every single day of the year – but seeing the scale of the problem laid out visually really hits home.

“Unfortunately, mental health problems are common in the construction industry, but lots of people don’t feel able to talk about their feelings. This stigma needs to be addressed if the awful suicide statistics are to be lowered, so hopefully by raising awareness of the issue, things can start to gradually improve.”

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