IUPAT Campaign Raises Awareness about Suicide and Substance Use Disorder

March 2019

To help combat the extraordinarily high rates of suicide and substance use disorder among construction workers, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades is launching the “IUPAT Helping Hand” campaign to raise awareness and provide resources to help workers in the building and construction trades deal with these personal crises.
Construction workers face numerous challenges, including physical injuries, that put them at risk of considering suicide or using pills, often opioids, to get pain relief and get back on the job so they can be paid. But the drug use can lead to addiction and substance use disorder.
Chicago-based insurer CNA estimated in 2015 that 15.1 percent of construction workers abused legal and illegal drugs, with opioids accounting for 20 percent of total spending on prescription drugs by workers in the construction industry.
Substance use disorder isn’t the only hardship working families suffer from; a November 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that male construction workers have the highest rate of suicide in the United States. Other studies show similar results for Canadian workers. The data show that construction workers are three times more likely to take their own life than the rest of the population.
The IUPAT Helping Hand website offers downloadable materials on why these problems are so acute in the construction industry, warning signs and symptoms, helpline information and treatment center information in the United States and Canada.