Macho, bullying culture a key factor in building industry’s high suicide numbers – study

A building industry study has identified a macho and bullying culture as a major factor in the industry's high suicide numbers.

Suicide among building industry workers is the highest percentage of any industry, accounting for almost 7 percent of all suicides with forestry and farming just behind, according to the 2016 Suicide Mortality Review Committee.

Building Research Association (BRANZ) general manager of industry research Chris Litten said a consistent message emerged from its survey of the industry.

"We found that the culture of toxic masculinity is really rife.

"The 'take a concrete pill' and 'harden up' attitude is really prevalent in the industry.

"The really high-pressure nature of this industry around the boom and bust cycle, and we're in a boom cycle at the moment and that's really draining and stressful on people," Mr Litten said.

Rick Herd, chief executive of construction firm Naylor Love, said small business owners and workers face the most pressure to keep afloat.

"That is where I believe we'll find, when more research is completed, that the biggest issues around suicide and mental wellbeing are going to be most prevalent," said Mr Herd, also a member of Construction Health and Safety New Zealand.

"I think the report [puts] far too much emphasis on the factor of macho bullying and a toxic culture. I think that is overplayed."

He said the bullying culture had improved over the past decade.

WorkSafe chief executive Nicole Rosie said the safety agency was looking at all risks in the sector, including workers' mental health.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

rnz.co.nz

Building site (file picture).
Building site (file picture). Source: istock.com

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