- freely available
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2979; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162979
- General awareness training (GAT) for construction workers—A one-hour session with all workers on a worksite about suicide as a preventable problem faced by the industry, what it looks like when a mate is struggling and how to connect a mate to help;
- Connector training—A four-hour onsite training session for workers who volunteer to become connectors. Connectors are recruited during GAT training (i.e., they tick a box on the training card to self-nominate). The training includes Livingworks safeTALK  training. Connectors are trained to identify and safely engage with people at risk and connect them to professional help; and
- ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)—A 16 h workshop off site for key workers on site (supervisors, union and safety representatives, first aid/site paramedics) where they are trained to make a safe-plan for a person at risk of suicide and connect them to external resources.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Connector Training Survey
2.2. Interviews and Focus Groups
2.3. Statistical Analysis
2.3.1. Connectors’ Survey
2.3.2. Interviews and Focus Groups
3.1. Connectors’ Survey Results
3.2. Focus Grsoups and Interview Results
3.2.1. Connectors’ Perspectives
I had very old-fashioned views about suicide and people - probably not the most supportive. The training brought me right out of that… and really made me realise how in general terms someone would get to a position like that and how successful help could be at the right times if people were keeping an eye out for each other.
That concerned me that I didn’t know what I was looking for. It made a lot of sense to me after doing the course. One of the blokes in particular was showing a lot of those symptoms that they were talking about. We could have quite easily missed it.
We’ve educated people to the extent that it isn’t a weakness. Everybody suffers and they go through problems. It’s about solving the problem, not making it worse, and get people talking about it then and say ‘do you know what, we’re not bulletproof. We like to think we bloody are, but we’re not’.
I feel like the best part of the whole course was the removing the taboo kind of thing. I often thought that if I’m directly asking the question (are you suicidal?), it would be the wrong thing to do. I thought it would be a terrible thing because it would put it in their head and they might think about it, but I found out it’s the best thing to do.
I had a member one day call me and tell me that he was thinking about jumping off a building that he was working on. I was able to go to the site and spoke with him and connected him up with some help and he got the counselling and moved forward, which was pretty powerful stuff.
The fact that you are actually able to have discussions with people and they feel like you’re taking an interest in them as a person... It’s a two-pronged benefit. The fact that you both walk away from the situation feeling that things are in a better direction and the person’s gone ‘he cares about me, rather than just the name on the shirt’, is the biggest benefit out of it.
I know you’ve got any number of other organisations that do it, but MATES, they’re a part of us. They’re a part of the construction industry, so there’s that connection with them. Blokes will identify with that rather than calling (a helpline).
The whole thing’s supported by our industry and it’s something that we put together, and everyone pays into, and it’s represented very well. It’s taken off very well.
You’ve got your first aiders on your wall, and your mental health first aiders. They’re two different people. You’re going to him for a cut on the finger: well you go to him for a cut on your heart. I looked at that and I thought ‘Of course. That’s just so simple!’
We’re construction workers. We’re not trained mental health professionals - we’re just connectors. We’ll get you from here to there and keep you safe for that bit, and then you’re handing someone over to get the proper help that they need because we can’t fix the problems. We can only help them get the help they need.
It’s the one thing that MATES have done by doing that model is with construction workers if it’s in front of you, you tend to rely on it more so. The fact that the field officers are around the projects and drop in quite frequently, it’s front of centre, front of mind. That reference point is always there.
They’re coming from a place of—we can tell they’re not just a contract trainer in to deliver something that they couldn’t give two (expletives) about. It’s a passion and it comes across in their delivery. People can’t not pay attention when someone is delivering like that.
3.2.2. Clients’ Perspectives
I know with a lot of men, particularly in that sort of industry, they’ve got a macho image that they’re supposed to uphold. They do find it very difficult to ask for help. They think it’s a weakness and people are going to judge them, which is quite sad.[Female partner of a construction worker]
I had to learn that it’s okay to admit that you’re having trouble and it’s okay to ask for help. That’s an attitude. An attitude stopped me from doing it earlier. A change in attitude helped me get there.
Our delegate got up and spoke to us … explaining how he was in a bad situation when he was younger… He ended up reaching out, and if he never reached out, who knows where he would have been. I was in a really bad situation, and having someone that you look up to, talk about his own experience… it makes you feel a lot more comfortable. It wasn’t long after that, I ended up reaching out, which was a good thing.
I went to a friend’s funeral… we were at the wake afterwards and one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met spoke to me about his experience with suicidal thoughts. That was not long after the (GAT) training. I just went ‘wow, so it doesn’t matter how tough you are on the exterior, everyone’s got feelings and emotions and if you don’t deal with them, they’ll deal with you’. There’s people out there that can help you deal with them.
Just knowing that someone that you’re talking to has gone through the same thing that you’re going through and that you’re not the only person in the world that feels that way. That gave me a big sense of relief. Those people speak your language and it becomes even more and more real and more understandable.
He said ‘mate, you can call this number 24 h a day’. That gave me the feeling that if I’m having trouble at that moment and I don’t know, it could be three o’clock in the morning, I’ve got someone to call. That made me feel good. I reckon that’s a real bonus. You just want someone to talk to when you’re upset. I reckon that’s gold.
I’m personally a lot more open these days to talking about things and I suppose reaching out to people who might be able to help if I think that’s what I need; a lot more open-minded to the fact that it doesn’t make you any less of a person… All that stuff—‘the big tough man’.
He talks highly about them (MATES), and now when he has a mate in trouble at work he always goes ‘give these guys a call, even if you just need a chat’.[Female partner of a construction worker]
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|Suicide Awareness Items and Well-Being||Pre-Training||Post-Training|
|N||Me 1||Md 2||Mo3||Range||SD||Me 1||Md 2||Mo3||Range||SD||Z4||p|
|Suicide awareness *||91||4.31||4.33||4.67||2.33–5||0.54||4.71||4.83||5||3–5||0.37||−7.12||<0.001|
|1. I am familiar with MATES in Construction and the work that they do.||93||4.49||5||5||1–5||0.72||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2. Talking openly about suicide can prevent suicide.||94||4.54||5||5||1–5||0.70||4.85||5||5||4–5||0.36||−4.19||<0.001|
|3. If my workmate was going through a difficult time feeling upset or thinking about suicide, I think I would notice.||94||3.90||4||4||1–5||0.93||4.55||5||5||1–5||0.67||−6.05||<0.001|
|4. If my mate was going through a difficult time feeling upset or was thinking about suicide, I would be willing to offer help.||94||4.78||5||5||3–5||0.47||4.89||5||5||4–5||0.31||−2.52||0.01|
|5. If my workmate was going through a difficult time feeling upset or thinking about suicide, I would know how to connect him/her to appropriate help.||94||4.03||4||4||1–5||0.92||4.82||5||5||1–5||0.53||−6.84||<0.001|
|6. My current worksite supports good mental health and well-being.||91||4.32||4||5||2–5||0.79||4.62||5||5||2–5||0.63||−4.19||<0.001|
|7. If I was going through a difficult time, feeling upset, or was thinking about suicide, I would be willing to seek help.||94||4.29||5||5||1–5||0.89||4.59||5||5||1–5||0.75||−3.91||<0.001|
|So far today, the best way to describe how I’m feeling emotionally/mentally is…||88||4.28||4||5||2–5||0.77||4.40||5||5||2–5||0.70||−2.24||0.03|
|N||Me 1||Md 2||Mo3||Range||SD||Me 1||Md 2||Mo3||Range||SD||Z||p|
|Mental health professional||92||3.92||4||5||1–5||1.21||4.16||5||5||1–5||1.10||−3.32||0.001|
|Not seek help from anyone||92||1.88||1||1||1–5||1.15||1.85||1||1||1–5||1.28||−0.51 4||0.61|
|Seek help from another||71||2.39||3||1||1–5||1.33||2.38||3||1||1–5||1.31||−0.07 4||0.95|
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