Bechtel pledges $7m for suicide prevention

A road being built through a mountain in South Dakota (Larry Gevert/Dreamstime)
American engineer Bechtel will donate $7m to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), to be spent on support for 500,000 construction workers over the next five years.

The company will work with the AFSP to develop prevention strategies, and will seek insights from others in the industry. This will be facilitated by forming an advisory council with other bodies.

Bechtel notes that in the US, five times more construction workers die by suicide than site accidents, and that the rate is one of the highest for any profession.

Brendan Bechtel, the company’s chairman, said: “This is the start of a long-term, sustained effort to lift up the whole construction community. We want to see mental health become as much of a priority as physical safety in our industry.

“We know we cannot meet this challenge alone. Real change will take all of us. We want to build an industry-wide effort, and we are encouraging others in construction to join us.”

Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, added: “All of us who work in construction have seen gains in physical safety that were once unimaginable. It’s time to bring the same mindset, resources and innovation to the issue of mental health and suicide prevention.”

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