Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Construction Company Embraces Frank Talk About Mental Health To Reduce Suicide

RK, a construction company, has made mental health a part of its regular toolbox talks, in which employees hear from managers and get a chance to stretch.
Yuki Noguchi/NPR

It has been five years, but the memory still haunts construction superintendent Michelle Brown.
A co-worker ended his workday by giving away his personal cache of hand tools to his colleagues. It was a generous but odd gesture; no one intending to return to work would do such a thing.
The man went home and killed himself. He was found shortly afterward by co-workers who belatedly realized the significance of his gifts.
"It's a huge sign, but we didn't know that then," Brown says. "We know it now."
The suicide of that construction worker for RK in 2014 became a pivotal event for the company, shaking its 1,500 employees, including co-owner Jon Kinning.
The death brought home some painful facts. Construction and mining (including oil drilling) have the highest suicide rates of all occupations, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the suicide rate for working-age adults has been rising in the U.S., increasing by 34% to 17.3 suicides per 100,000 in 2015 from 12.9 in 2012.
Kinning spent the months after the incident meeting with industry leaders and suicide experts.

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