If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Crisis counselors are available 24/7.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent press release from the Associated General Contractors of America on Thursday announced a new mental health initiative aimed at construction workers with a focus on suicide prevention.

According to the AGC, the annual suicide rate among construction workers is 53.2 suicides per 100,000 workers, five times greater than the industry’s workplace fatality rate. A 2020 study published by the CDC lists construction as one of six occupational groups with a “significantly higher” suicide rate.

“We cannot stand by while a silent epidemic of suicide takes place within our industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of AGC, in the press release. “We want to reduce the stigma of mental health issues in this industry, let people know it is okay to ask for help, and, ultimately, save lives.”

The initiative is built by AGC’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Task Force and will include a series of videos featuring workers who considered or attempted suicide, and who will urge their fellow workers to seek help. AGC says these videos will release later this fall.

“We’re talking to construction workers who’ve had these mental health challenges, some of whom have had opioid addictions. They’re brave enough to tell their story, about what they’ve gone through and how close they were to ending their lives,” said Brian Turmail, AGC national spokesperson. “They’re saying to their fellow workers that it’s okay to ask for help.”

Turmail relates AGC’s efforts to the physical safety measures taken at a construction site, he wants a similar culture around mental health.

“On a construction site someone will say, ‘hey, wait a second, you’re not tied off’ or ‘you’re wearing that helmet wrong’ or ‘you can’t be on this job site without your vest,'” Turmail said. “We need to have the same conversations with coworkers about mental health and addiction.”

The association also said it will launch a forum for “examples of successful mental health and suicide prevention efforts,” as well as a free online collection of mental health resources for construction firms.

“Just about every one of our members has a story of grieving with the family of an employee who took their own lives. It’s heartbreaking,” Turmail said. “A lot of these firms are almost like a second family. And to have one of those family members take their own lives is just devastating. We need to do more, and we are doing more, to to help our members avoid that kind of tragedy.”