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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Contact: Michelle DePotter

(561) 312-3991

CONSTRUCTION GROUP LAUNCHES NEW EFFORT TO COMBAT HIGH SUICIDE RATES AND IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH AMONG THE INDUSTRY'S WORKERS

AGC Florida East Coast Chapter Chief Executive Officer, Michelle DePotter, Tapped to Serve on AGC of America's Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Task Force

The Associated General Contractors of America is launching a new effort to combat high suicide rates and improve mental health among the industry’s workers. The new effort is being coordinated by the association’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Task Force, which is comprised of construction professionals from across the country, including AGC Florida East Coast Chapter's chief executive officer, Michelle DePotter.

DePotter noted 53.3 suicides per 100,000 construction workers fall to suicide and the suicide rate for construction workers is the second highest of all industries, this according to a July report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AGC of America's chief executive officer, Stephen Sandherr noted that this is compared to a national construction workplace fatality rate of 10.2 per 100,000 workers, according to the most recent federal safety data. He added that a construction worker is five times as likely to die by suicide than workplace safety hazards.

“We cannot stand by while a silent epidemic of suicide takes place within our industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC of America's chief executive officer. “We want to reduce the stigma of mental health issues in this industry, let people know it is okay to ask for help and, ultimately, save lives.”

The construction association is preparing a series of video public service announcements (PSAs) featuring construction workers who almost succumbed to their mental health challenges. The workers in these videos will urge members of the construction industry to not be afraid to seek help.

In addition to the videos, which the association will begin releasing in the fall, the Associated General Contractors is also launching a quarterly forum to share examples of successful mental health and suicide prevention efforts. The association is also assembling a comprehensive collection of resources for construction companies and their workers about mental health and suicide prevention. Those resources will be available online, free of charge, to all construction firms.

Last year, DePotter participated in the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County’s Executive Pre-Launch of Project Opioid. Palm Beach County has long been the epicenter of the opioid crisis over the years. In 2021, Palm Beach County’s opioid overdose rate of 36.7 per 100,000 population was 71.5% higher than the State of Florida, and 237% higher than the nation and 128,000 workers side-lined from the labor force. “For years, opioid, mental health and suicide have been silent epidemic issues affecting our local construction community,” said DePotter.

“It is my hope that bringing continued awareness through leadership standing in the community, encouraging open discussions within the AGC membership and the local construction community, along with sharing the plethora of free construction resources available online, it will help reduce the stigma and help facilitate saving lives locally," said Michelle DePotter, AGC Florida East Coast Chapter's chief executive officer.

“The bottom line is physical safety isn’t just about wearing the right protective equipment. It is about understanding you are not alone and that it is okay to ask for help,” Sandherr noted.

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To download the suicide prevention posters, CLICK HERE.