Suicides among construction occupations in the UK

Billy Hare*, Kenneth Lawani, Gail McEwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
247 Downloads (Pure)


Studies on mental health are increasingly complementing those on safety and physical health within the construction research community, with suicide numbers being an indicative measure of mental health. In the UK, deaths by suicide are approximately 470 per year, which dwarfs fatal accident numbers. The aim of this paper is to review the evidence base about suicide and construction workers. The methods consisted of two approaches: combining secondary data from UK statistical databases to create a suicide rate per 100,000 for construction occupations; and a systematic literature review to help explain the suicide rates observed. Trend analysis of suicide rates, from 2015 to 2021 shows construction occupations to be approximately three times that of the combined non-construction occupations, and steadily rising, whereas non-construction rates have remained relatively steady. Unskilled workers have the highest rate, around seven times managers and professional occupations. Potential reasons for this, found in the literature, included managers/professionals’ greater propensity to shift beliefs about suicide stigmas, and skilled workers being more likely to report substance abuse; - rather than hide it, thereby increasing opportunities to discuss and resolve such issues to reduce suicide risk. However, the socio-economic risk associated with unskilled workers means being poor is certainly not good for their mental health. The analysis presented in this paper informs industry policy and practice by uncovering a previously unknown upward trend in suicide rates among UK construction workers, along with a focused list of evidence-based factors to inform further research on why this phenomenon is occurring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0017
JournalJournal of Engineering, Project, and Production Management
Issue number2
Early online date5 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Nov 2023


  • Mental Health
  • Occupation
  • Suicide
  • Unskilled

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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