On a sunny September afternoon, Clarkson Safety Director Jeff Gamble asks a serious question to the team of craftworkers gathered on the K-10 bridge over Kill Creek.
“By a show of hands, how many of you have been impacted by suicide?”
As hands slowly begin to rise, Jeff begins the day’s safety stand down, an important opportunity to speak directly to members of the team while reinforcing jobsite procedures, current guidelines, and important topics on health and safety. In recognition of the month’s designation as Suicide Prevention Month, September’s safety stand down topic at every Clarkson jobsite is suicide prevention.
In 2020, Jeff joined a mission-driven group of volunteers from across the construction industry to collaborate on and launch Construction Suicide Prevention Week (CSPW) with one goal in mind: to save lives. The CSPW Planning Committee, comprised of representatives from OSHA, The Builders, the Safety & Health Council of Western Missouri/Kansas, and construction companies from across Kansas City, created an online resource library to support the week’s mission and to provide invaluable tools and resources to stamp out the stigma of asking for help, and possibly help save lives.
Observed in the first week of September each year, Construction Suicide Prevention Week is a time dedicated to raising awareness about the high number of suicides in the industry while also providing resources to help prevent future deaths.
“We just need to be able to start the conversation,” Jeff said. “We don’t want anyone to end up in a situation where they’re faced with someone in crisis but aren’t sure what to do. Just like we train our employees in First Aid to be better prepared in case of emergency, we want to train our employees to recognize the warning signs of suicide.”
The CSPW Planning Committee provides materials to be shared with teams across jobsites: magnets, hardhat stickers, and bracelets featuring the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number of 988, assuring that a reminder of the resources available is always nearby.
When struggling with mental health, it can be difficult to reach out for help; it’s important to remind team members that they are not alone, and that mental illness is not their fault nor is it anything to be ashamed of. These ongoing conversations will help reduce the stigma around mental illness, and possibly help our industry take a turn for the better when it comes to saving lives.
To learn more about Construction Suicide Prevention Week, please visit their website here; if you or someone you know is in need of assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via call, text, or chat at 988.
Clarkson is honored to support as a Cornerstone Sponsor of Construction Suicide Prevention Week 2023 and the committee’s ongoing efforts and impact in our industry.