Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 7

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can be
very effective in reaching these three goals. Bob
Vandepol and Cal Beyer, in their article "What
Construction Unions are Doing About Suicide
Prevention," state: "Suicide prevention must
become part of a 24/7 safety culture where it
is discussed at work, at home with our families,
and in our schools and communities." Opalweski
gives this a strong amen to this statement.
One of the biggest myths is that talking about
suicide pushes people over the edge and it
becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The stigma
attached to suicide is a cultural taboo.
"There's lot of testosterone in the construction profession," observed Opalewski. "With
men, the perception is that if they're depressed,
it's a character flaw. But it's a medical condition. We need to educate people more about
mental health issues and how they can access
health professionals. Often, people think they're
wimps if they ask for help-people in the construction industry aren't big on going to therapy
and counseling. But it's a sign of strength, not
weakness."
He says that families haven't wanted people
to get the perception that they're dysfunctional,
so they just don't talk about any problems. In
the past, families were also afraid they wouldn't
be able to collect on an insurance policy if there
was a suicide. Nowadays, insurance companies
do pay, although there are restrictions.
Opalewski warns that the No. 1 cause of
suicide is drug abuse. "Often, older workers
are taking pain medication to help them get
through the job," he said. "They're also drinking with their buddies after work-I've seen 10
construction workers sitting on the curb and
making beer can pyramids. Alcohol is a drug
that affects the central nervous system. This
is a recipe for disaster."
According to experts, if you take the number
of suicides and multiply it by 4.5, that's probably the real number. "Mental health isn't an
exact science, but it's better than it used to
be," said Opalewski. "Education to get rid of
the stereotypes-and awareness-are really
important."
Opalewski emphasized that suicide is preventable. "Remember-choosing to die is never a
solitary decision," he said. "When you die, others
do, too. Suicide doesn't just affect one person. On
average, six people's lives will never be the same."
It is important for employers to recognize the
problem and support their employees in offering
guidance, raising awareness and ensuring that
people do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to
seek help. ◗

Risk Factors
Suicide is often the result of multiple risk
factors. Having them, however, doesn't
mean that suicide will occur. Some of the
risk factors researchers identified include
the following:
* History of previous suicide attempts.
* Family history of suicide.
* History of depression or other mental
illness.
* History of alcohol or drug abuse.
* Stressful life event or loss, e.g., job,
financial, relationship.
* Easy access to lethal methods.
* History of interpersonal violence.
* Stigma associated with mental illness
and help-seeking.
Warning Signs
* Increased substance use (alcohol
or drug).
* No reason for living; no sense of
purpose in life.
* Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or
sleeping all the time.
* Feeling trapped, like there's no way out.
* Hopelessness.
* Withdrawal from friends, family and
society.
* Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking
revenge.
* Acting reckless or engaging in risky
activities, seemingly without thinking.
* Dramatic mood changes.

ACUTE RISK: Threatening to hurt or kill
himself; talking of wanting to hurt or kill
himself; looking for ways to kill himself by
seeking access to firearms, available pills
or other means; talking or writing about
death, dying or suicide, when these actions
are out of the ordinary.
Talking to a Person in Crisis
* Emphasize alternatives.
* Stay calm and understanding.
* Use constructive, open questions:
How are you planning (open)?
Are you thinking about killing yourself?
(closed)
* Mention family as source of support.
* Emphasize tackling problems one
at a time.
* Emphasize that if he or she completes
it, there is no second chance.
* Encourage him or her to seek
professional help
If you are hurting
* Allow yourself to heal.
* Create a positive action plan.
* Give others a chance to help you.
* Get professional help.
If warning signs are observed, seek help
as soon as possible by contacting a
mental health professional or calling
1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.

A High-Risk Group
A new job safety study found that U.S. construction workers remain at high risk for
on-the-job injuries to muscles, tendons, joints and nerves, despite significant improvements over the past 25 years.
Collectively known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), these workrelated injuries often occur because of overwork, excessive exposure to vibration, bending,
twisting and adopting awkward body postures. The economic cost in lost wages among
private wage-and-salary construction workers in 2014 was $46 million, according to
the study.
"The average risk of WMSDs in construction is continually higher than all industries
combined," study leader Xiuwen Sue Dong, a researcher with The Center for Construction
Research and Training in Silver Spring, Maryland, told Reuters News Agency.
"Our study found that the major event and exposure of WMSDs among construction
workers was overexertion, and (the) back was the primary body part affected, accounting for more than 40 percent of WMSDs," she said.
The findings were reported in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Source: AIL/NILICO Labor Letter & Agenda; March 2017, Vol. 49, No. 1

Michigan Constructor | Summer 2017 | 7



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017

A Message from the Chairman
Addressing Mental Health In Construction
2017-2018 Membership Directory
Index of Advertisers/Advertisers.com
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Intro
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover1
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover2
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 3
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 4
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - A Message from the Chairman
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Addressing Mental Health In Construction
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 7
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 8
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 9
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 10
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 11
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 12
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 13
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 2017-2018 Membership Directory
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 15
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 16
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 17
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 18
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 19
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 20
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 21
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Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 31
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 32
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 33
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Index of Advertisers/Advertisers.com
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover3
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