by Lauren Clark
Behind the power tools and tough exteriors, thousands of carpenters are facing dangers both on and off the worksite.
Las Vegas, Nevada (KSNV). — Behind the power tools and tough exteriors, thousands of carpenters are facing dangers both on and off the worksite.
“I myself would say—if you can’t handle it mentally—you’re weak. So you just bury it, you don’t talk about it,” said BOSS committee chair and carpenter Tom Carlton.
It’s a struggle Carlton knows well.
“A marriage that fell apart, relationships that fell apart, and at 55 I thought–is this ever going to work,” Carlton said.
So does five-year carpenter and veteran Nicolas Swan.
It was either—get help, or lose my wife, my family, and probably eventually even my own life,” Swan said.
And nationwide, the numbers hammer into a devastating story. According to the #CDC, every year, over 5500 construction workers lose their life to #suicide. That averages about 15 suicides per day and ranks as the second-highest profession for those rates in #America.
“There are more moralities due to #suicide than construction accidents combined,” said Carlton.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
VP and COO of Southwest Council of Carpenters Frank Hawk say the reasons are multi-faceted. Including a so-called “tough guy” culture in a male-dominated field.
“Toughen up. That’s what we are always told,” Hawk said. “We’ve learned to ignore pain–but that also got transferred to ignoring pain mentally.”
There’s also job insecurity–a problem made worse in the #pandemic as certain projects are no longer happening—and long, grueling hours.
“ lt takes a tough person to make it in this trade,” said Carlton. “You beat your body up like a professional #athlete.”
All–says Hawk—creating a perfect storm for poor #mentalhealth.
“So here we were worried about fall protection and keeping your hands and fingers-and, and preserving your body, but we never thought about what’s going on in our minds,” he said.
Hawk says his eyes were opened to the importance of #mentalhealth in the profession after losing his son to #suicide.
“Losing your #child is against the rules of nature. You shouldn’t have to be burying your #child,” he said. ” I got diagnosed with post-traumatic #stress disorder. I had #anxiety issues, the flash backs were incredible.”
But now the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters is taking a stand. Creating the Brotherhood Outreach for Strength and Support—or BOSS Council. The goal, to address #mentalhealthissues among its Las Vegas Members.
And so far, both Carlton and Hawk say the feedback is incredible.
“It’s good for my soul to say hey guys, I needed help, I got help, and I’m over here now instead of over here,” said Carlton.
“That’s probably the message I want everyone to know. As bad as it seems today, it can get better,” said Swan.
If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call 800-273-8255 anytime for help.