Suicide trends among Australian construction workers during years 2001–2019
In many Western countries, including Australia, construction workers have been identified as being at elevated risk of suicide compared to other workers. A variety of suicide prevention initiatives have been implemented and expanded to reduce suicide in this occupational group; however, the net effect of these is unknown. Using 19 years of national suicide data, this study examined the suicide mortality of Australian male construction workers relative to all other working males, and compared suicide rates over time between the two groups. Age-standardized suicide rates were calculated for construction workers and those employed in other occupations. 2001–2019 trends in age-standardized rates of suicide mortality were analyzed by joinpoint regression analysis. The annual average percentage change (AAPC) measure was calculated for both groups to quantify change over time within each group, complemented by a pair-wise AAPC comparison of changes in trends between the two groups over the 2001–2019 period. Australian male construction workers’ overall age-standardized suicide rate was 26.6 per 100,000 persons compared to 13.2 per 100,000 for male workers employed in other occupations (pooled over the entire 2001–2019 period). Over time, the suicide mortality rate declined in both construction workers and those working in other occupations; however, the decline in suicide mortality was greater in construction workers (AAPC: −3.0; 95%CI −4.0, −2.0) compared to other workers (AAPC: 1.5; 95%CI −2.1, −1.0). The AAPC pair-wise comparison showed a significant difference between the rate of decline among construction versus other workers over the 19-year study period (AAPC: −1.4; 95%CI 0.4, 2.5), confirming a rapid decline among construction versus other male workers. This study provides evidence of a decline in suicide rates among Australian construction workers over the last two decades. This decline may be attributable to the combined effects of population-wide, male-specific, and sector-specific suicide prevention efforts over this same period, suggesting that the continuation or expansion of such efforts may lead to further declines.