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September 17, 2020

A year of accomplishments in the midst of a challenging year

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month – a time to share information, stories, resources and more to shed light on this highly important and sensitive topic. While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, this month provides us a focused opportunity to come together and have honest conversations about mental health and suicide prevention. Today, I want to share some information and resources with you. 


To start, Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention has provided the following resource to help those in our industry create awareness, and cultivate a culture of caring, and help start meaningful conversations in the workplace.

Talking about mental health and suicide can feel awkward and uncomfortable. The stigma that surrounds these topics can make us embarrassed to bring them up and sometimes what happens is we use inappropriate phrases and language to address them. The problem with this is that it increases the stigma around mental health and suicide and can make it harder for someone in need of help to ask for it.  


We have the power to eliminate the stigma and make these conversations easier by adopting proper language and increasing our mental health literacy. Do not feel bad if you do not know how to properly talk about these things – most people don’t! But you can make the choice to change your language so that you can help others.  


If we think about mental illness like any other physical illness it helps to reframe our thinking and language. We do not say somebody “is cancer” so we should not say that about mental illness either.  Swap out “is” for “is experiencing anxiety” or “has depression”. When we say they “are depressed” it labels the whole person as the disorder and it becomes their identity – as opposed to addressing it as a health issue.


Similarly, our language around suicide can be changed to help not only those at risk, but those who may have attempted or lost someone have more dignity as well. “Committed suicide” is the common phrase we hear but “commit” implies a crime or a sin. Suicide is a death caused by the disease of mental illness, addiction, or despair. Saying “died by suicide” is a much more respectful term to use.  


The most important thing is to think about what you are saying and whether it will make you seem approachable for someone who is experiencing mental illness or suicidal thoughts to talk to. Avoid using words like crazy, psycho, or wacko as descriptions for anyone – even if they aren’t experiencing mental illness, using those words increases the negative stigma around mental health and makes it harder for those in need to speak up.  


Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention provides information, tools, webinars, events and other resources for suicide prevention and mental health promotion in construction.


There are additional resources and information included in today’s newsletter. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. It is important that as a community we raise awareness and strengthen the fight against suicide.


Together we make a difference.


Shandon Harbour

President & Chief Executive Officer

Associated Builders and Contractors - San Diego

ABCSD  I  13825 Kirkham Way Poway, CA 92064  I  Tel: 858.513.4700  I  Fax: 858.513.2373  I  I

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