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Improved communication needed to reduce suicides

10 September 2020

World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 is being used to highlight the fact that numbers of suicides have rapidly increased this year and the steps required to help those most in need of assistance.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that suicide rates for female are at their highest level since 2004 and the numbers for males have risen to their greatest numbers in 20 years.Although there are no figures available for FM, male construction workers have been shown by the ONS to have the highest suicide rates of any UK industry.This year's World Suicide Prevention Day is supported by many of the leading charities and organisations in the UK.Greater levels of communication are being encouraged, both by those needing assistance and those in a position to provide it.One example of this is the Wates 'take a minute' initiative, which encourages colleagues to speak to others to encourage them to discuss their feelings, receiving assistance where necessary and to recognise when friends or colleagues are struggling. The company has worked with suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide to "help break down the stigma of talking about mental health, and to help reduce the high levels of suicides in construction".It has created a short video and posters to support the campaign and is hosting a webinar today for colleagues in association with PAPYRUS, which will see panellists share their experiences and discuss how to encourage more conversations about mental health.Wates Group safety, health, environment and quality director John Dunne said: “To know that in our industry so many people are struggling to the extent that they feel their only option is to end their life, is simply tragic. ?"We have a moral duty to look out for one another, but we also have to focus on making our workplaces and working practices the best they can be, which includes driving a culture whereby everyone feels safe to open up and able to ask for help”.PAPYRUS NW regional manager Joann Hitchen, a panellist at today’s webinar, said: “PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide has been working collaboratively with Wates for the last two years. "It all began when Carl Wales, a PAPYRUS Champion, started delivering suicide prevention awareness sessions to his colleagues at Wates. Through his passion and the enthusiasm of his colleagues and directors this suicide prevention work morphed into something much bigger."PAPYRUS resources are available at most construction sites; Wates staff are undergoing Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training delivered by PAPYRUS; colleagues have fundraised, and the PAPYRUS helpline, HOPELINEUK (0800 068 4141), is displayed in company vehicles and on scaffolding on several sites across the UK. "As result of all these things we know that lives are being saved as people are asking the question, ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ and people are calling HOPELINEUK. We would like to thank Wates for its continued support and for the trail blazing work in suicide prevention.”

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