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International Journal of Mental Health & PsychiatryISSN: 2471-4372

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The Economic Cost of Suicide and Non-fatal Suicidal Behaviour in the Australian Construction Industry

Objective: Suicide has gained recognition worldwide as a significant public health problem. This paper quantifies the economic cost of suicide and non-fatal suicide behaviour (NFSB) in the Australian Construction Industry (CI).

Methods: Suicide data were obtained from the National Coronial Information System and occupational information was coded according to Australian standards with CI workers falling into three major groups: technicians and trades worker; machine operators; and, drivers and labourers. The analysis used a costing methodology endorsed by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. Costs were derived for the year 2012 using an incidence-based approach with future costs discounted to 2012 dollars.

Results: In 2012, a total 169 male CI workers lost their life to suicide with an average age of 37 years. For those states where age standardised rates of suicide could be calculated, rates of suicide in the CI was higher than the state and national average with the exception of QLD where the CI had comparable rates to the state average. The economic cost is estimated at $1.57 billion cost. The cost of non-fatal suicidal behaviour resulting in full incapacity comprised the majority of these costs (76.5%) with loss of earnings the key cost driver.

Conclusion: The high economic cost of suicide and non-fatal suicide behaviour in the Australian CI warrants an appropriate response. There are a number of workforce strategies available to address mental health issues. We hope our up-to-date estimates of the burden on the Australian CI will fuel the national call to action.

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