Program rolls out to lower suicide in construction industry

A CONSTRUCTION industry suicide prevention program will soon roll out across Queensland.

Mates in Construction may be operating in Mackay, Gladstone and Rockhampton and other high development areas in about a year.

The innovative program trains workers on major projects how to know how to tell whether their colleagues are at risk of self-harm.

The State Government has committed $155,000 to help Mates in Construction extend out of south-east Queensland and into regional communities.

There is a higher rate of suicide among people aged 15-24 in the construction industry than in any other industry.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said the program was making a huge difference.

"It gets right to the sort of people who are at greater risk of suicide and who are unlikely to associate with an outside authority figure, but are a lot more likely to listen to their own mates," he said.

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The funding is part of the government's plan to reduce Queensland suicide rates by 50% in the next decade.

About 600 Queenslanders take their own lives each year.

The 42-step plan includes helping families, workplaces and communities be better equipped to support people at risk of suicide; a stronger focus on vulnerable groups who are at higher risk of taking their own lives; and improved research, policies and service delivery.

The plan also includes provision to support Queensland Rail staff who face traumatic events including deaths, a 12-month training program for hospital emergency staff and mental health education for teachers.

There is also a strong focus on jails with a focus on improving the emotional resilience of prisoners, continued risk assessment of those in custody and ensuring all cells are suicide-proof.

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck said communities needed to start talking about the problem.

"Suicide is a tragic personal matter, yet it also affects the lives of others in our community," Dr van Schoubroeck said.

"It's a terrible toll that we must reduce."

The Queensland Suicide Prevention Reference Group, made up of government and community representatives and including people directly affected by suicide will oversee the state's action plan.

# If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 131 114; the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. - APN NEWSDESK