A giant artwork made of 687 high-vis vests has been erected in central London – to commemorate the average number of tradespeople who lose their lives to suicide each year.
The latest government data shows as average of 687 trade workers died by suicide annually between 2019 and 2021 – equating to 13 a week, or almost two a day.
In 2021, tradespeople accounted for 15 per cent of suicides across all industries – more than any other occupation.
Tradesperson Rebecca Bishop, co-founder of Elite Building, shared her own experience and urged others in the industry to speak out about their mental wellbeing.
“I experience burnout regularly, but it started getting serious in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic,” she said. “I remember asking my husband if it was possible to die from stress as I was genuinely concerned.
“Tradespeople need to understand that they are never alone. Things don’t have to stay the way they are. We just need some brave people to step up and be vulnerable and share, which then might encourage others to share as well.”
The West End display, bearing the words “time to give mental health higher visibility”, is on show at the Galliford Try construction site in Goslett Yard.
It was unveiled by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect alongside the firm’s annual Mental Health in the Trades report, which found more than four in five (84 per cent) of UK tradespeople have experienced mental health problems due to work-related issues.
Emma Mamo, spokesperson for mental health charity Mind, said: “In male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.
“We urge employers to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”
Dominick Sandford, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, said: “We hope that this artwork serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of mental health issues within the trades industry.
“By bringing this issue to the forefront of people’s minds, we hope to encourage more open conversations around mental health and continue our efforts to support those who may be struggling.”
For more information about the mural, click here.
Help can be found by calling the Samaritans free of charge at any time on 116 123 or by email at email@example.com or visit Samaritans.org.