A $5.2 million program to tackle the higher than normal rate of suicide among construction workers will be rolled out across major building sites in WA.
Experts argue the suicide prevention program, Mates in Construction, has helped prevent one to two suicides a week in Queensland where it has been used widely.
The education program has been used in a WA trial at the Brookfield Multiplex construction site at Fiona Stanley Hospital, with 1200 workers signing up since late last year, resulting in 60 workers asking for help, including 12 reporting suicidal thoughts.
Federal Mental Health Minister Mark Butler said funding from the Federal Government's $132 million Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package would triple the capacity of the existing program in WA.
The suicide rate in the construction industry is about three times that of the male suicide rate across the community - even more so in workers aged under 25.
Mr Butler said the program would build better connections between construction workers, mental health professionals and other organisations to support people working in industries where there was a higher risk of suicide.
"Construction workers are up to six times more likely to die from suicide than accidents at work so clearly this is an area that needs our attention," he said.
Mr Butler said the program had shown its value in WA, identifying several workers at risk at the Fiona Stanley Hospital site.
Mates in Construction chief executive Jorgen Gullestrup said the program had shown remarkable results.
"Getting men to seek help on mental health issues is notoriously difficult but the Mates in Construction program seems to have cracked this chestnut for the construction industry," he said.
"The program in Queensland intervened in a suicide plan or attempt once or twice per week and we expect to see similarly effective prevention in WA."
For more information, go to www.matesinconstruction. com.au.Lifeline's 24-hour telephone crisis support service is available to anyone needing emotional support. Call 13 11 14.
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