Construction workers at high risk of suicide, research shows

Source: 1News

The mental health of New Zealand's construction workers is back under the spotlight after new research revealed they are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than those in any other industry.

In 2011, more than 17 per cent of total suicides were construction workers. That jumped to nearly 30 per cent in 2019.

The reasons behind the deaths vary, but recent lockdowns and shutdowns have not helped.

Māori and those working in Auckland and Christchurch are more likely to be at risk, the research conducted by the University of Otago shows.

Mates in Construction has been supporting workers in Australia for years and launched in New Zealand two years ago.

It knew there was a problem with mental health but didn't realise how bad it was until the most recent study.

"What that's shown us is we're losing at least one person a week to suicide in the construction industry," chief executive Victoria McArthur told 1News.

"We know we've got some very high spikes of the under-24s, especially our young rangatahi, our young Māori men."

Where to get help.

The 45-49-year-old group is also at risk because they face the pressure of managing projects. The boom and bust nature of the industry only adds to the pressure and it's predicted that next year will bring even tougher conditions.

The group travels to sites around the country to offer support.

"You don't see Kiwi blokes open up that easily," McArthur said.

"We talk about how you notice changes in your mates when they're struggling, how you might pick up on that and how you might take 10 seconds of courage to help them if you're struggling."