Take A Minute To Save A Life As Suicide Rates Soar

Two builders talking to each other

World Suicide Prevention Day (10 Sept) this year fell against a background of the highest level of male suicides in two decades and the highest rate of female suicides since 2004.

The figure come from the UK's Office For National Statistics (ONS). Men working in construction have the highest rate of suicide of any industry in the UK.

The Wates Group has launched a company-wide campaign to encourage colleagues to ‘take a minute’ - time to talk to someone to offer help, to say not to mask how they feel; to notice a friend or colleague who is struggling or to simply start a conversation.


Prevention of Young Suicide

Wates has been also working with the suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide to help break down the stigma of talking about mental health and to help reduce the high levels of suicides in construction. 


Suicide safer communities

According to the ONS figures, male construction workers are three times more likely to die by suicide than the rest of the population. Wates used World Suicide Prevention Day as a call to action, to encourage colleagues to help create ‘suicide safer communities’, where they can talk openly and less secretively about suicide. 




The campaign is supported by a short video (above) and a series of posters, aimed particularly at colleagues working in largely male environments where the stigma of discussing mental health can be hard to overcome.


 “To know that in our industry so many people are struggling to the extent that they feel their only option is to end their life, is simply tragic.  We have a moral duty to look out for one another. We also have to focus on making our workplaces and working practices the best they can be, which includes driving a culture whereby everyone feels safe to open up and able to ask for help.”

– John Dunne 

Safety, Health, Environment & Quality Director, Wates Group


 Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training

Joann Hitchen, NW Regional Manager at PAPYRUS, says: “PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide has been working collaboratively with Wates for the last two years. It all began when Carl Wales, a PAPYRUS Champion, started delivering suicide prevention awareness sessions to his colleagues at Wates. Through his passion and the enthusiasm of his colleagues and directors this suicide prevention work morphed into something much bigger. PAPYRUS resources are available at most construction sites."


Trail blazing work

Wales continues: "Wates staff are undergoing Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training delivered by PAPYRUS; colleagues have fundraised, and the PAPYRUS helpline, HOPELINEUK (0800 068 4141), is displayed in company vehicles and on scaffolding on several sites across the UK. As result of all these things we know that lives are being saved as people are asking the question, ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ and people are calling HOPELINEUK. We would like to thank Wates for its continued support and for the trail blazing work in suicide prevention.”

Picture: Wates is encouraging colleagues to ‘take a minute’ as UK suicide rates soar to their highest levels in years.



Article written by Cathryn Ellis
16th September 2020


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