By
Cal Beyer, Vice President, Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing

The topic of mental wellbeing and suicide prevention is important to the CSDZ team. Our CSDZ President Jerry Ouimet calls it “a professional honor to serve as a Trustee” for the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP). Jerry was appointed to be an at-large Director of the CIASP earlier in 2020.

I, too, consider it a professional honor to partner with the CIASP. In fact, I was a catalyst in the formation of the CIASP.

What Is the CIASP?

The CIASP is a non-profit formed in October 2016 to help address the issue of the high suicide rate and high number of suicide deaths in the U.S. construction industry. The CIASP was formed by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA).

In 2015, the CFMA published the first article addressing behavioral health in the construction industry since 2009. That was when Bob VandePol and I co-authored the article The Critical Human Element of Crisis Management. Six and a half years later, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas and I co-authored an article titled Mental Illness & Suicide—Break the Silence & Create a Caring Culture. It was posted on a digital chat board on November 1, 2015, and the response was far-reaching. 

This article officially launched the movement to incorporate mental health awareness and suicide prevention into construction safety, health, and wellness culture. By April 2016, the CFMA Valley of the Sun Chapter held the first Suicide Prevention Summit, which was the first of over 20 such industry events across the country over the next two years.

Why Does the CIASP Exist?

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), construction is deemed to be at high risk for suicide. Construction is the industry with the highest number of suicides among all occupations and has the second highest rate of suicide among all occupations following only the mining and oil/gas extraction industry group.

CFMA decided to launch the CIASP to provide leadership support and structure to the growing mental wellbeing movement. In 2018, the CIASP reorganized as a 503(c)(3) nonprofit with governance in the form of officers and trustees. The CIASP exists to unify the construction industry around the vision of zero suicide and to share resources to help all industry stakeholders to address suicide prevention in their organizations.

What Is the STAND-Up Pledge?

CSDZ is asking construction organizations to consider signing the Pledge to STAND-Up to suicide prevention in the industry. Each letter in STAND represents a step in a comprehensive suicide prevention program.

We can all STAND up for suicide prevention and address it as a health and safety value by: 

  • S = Creating SAFE cultures.
  • T = Providing TRAINING to identify and help those at risk.
  • A = Raising AWARENESS about the suicide crisis in construction.
  • N = NORMALIZING conversations around suicide and mental health.
  • D = DECREASING the risks associated with suicide in construction.

There are six different pledge forms for the major stakeholder groups in the construction industry. To take part, click on the stakeholder group below that your organization represents and complete the online pledge for your organization. It is requested that the senior leader of the organization sign the pledge form and take actions to communicate the organization’s commitment to addressing suicide prevention programming in their company.

Please join CSDZ and STAND up for suicide prevention in your organization.

Additionally, tune in next week for the last in our “The Invisible Construction Crisis” 4-part blog. If you missed the first two parts, check them out below:

In the meantime (or at any time, for that matter), don’t hesitate to reach out to CSDZ or the CIASP. We’d love to talk with you about this topic and begin moving the construction industry in the direction of physical AND emotional/mental wellbeing.

Thank you for your support of a zero-suicide vision in the construction industry.