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'Suicide survivor' shares his story in effort to stop construction workers taking their lives

A man is sharing the story of his personal struggle to help fight the high rates of suicide in New Zealand's construction industry.

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Richie Hepi says he's sharing his story to help others reach out and find support. Source: Breakfast

The industry has the highest rates of suicide of any commercial sector in the country, particularly in males, according to Mates For Construction.

Richie Hepi is a construction field officer with Mates For Construction, an organisation dedicated to fighting the high rates and helping those in the industry speak up about their struggles. 

Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast today Hepi described himself as a  "suicide survivor". He hopes sharing his story, as hard as it is, will help others reach out for help.

Source: TVNZ

"If it takes for me to be vulnerable and talk about my story and if it helps someone to step forward and reach out for help then it’s okay.

"If my narrative helps them to reach out and find support then I'm okay with it."

Hepi said he "wasn’t able to find a way and I didn’t know where to get support" at some points during his personal struggle.

As today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, hundreds of construction sites around New Zealand will be flying flags to spread a message about suicide prevention.

The movement behind the message is Mates For Construction. 

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Construction sites around NZ to fly flags marking World Suicide Prevention Day

Mr Hepi says it's important to spread that message, particularly for males who "don’t like to talk about their emotions".

"It's a tough industry, we're talking to some of the toughest workers out there and if we can get through to them and say 'Hey man, it's cool to korero'.

"This is why Mates is here, to encourage our men especially in the construction industry."