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Devastating suicide and self-harm rates in male construction workers highlighted in shocking new research addressing serious industry problems

EqualEngineers say male construction and engineering workers are four times more likely to take their own life as report is released on World Mental Health Day.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and male construction workers are almost four times more likely to take their own life than the average of those working in any other industry or profession.

The situation is bleak, particularly among the engineering and technology industry with men comprising almost 90% of the workforce and an overwhelming feeling among this sector that men should behave in a certain way against a backdrop of more than one in five in this line of work reporting that they had lost a colleague to suicide.

There is an alarmingly high rate of people working in the engineering and technology industry that have considered self-harming or taking their own life too (25%) and among those who tried to self-harm, 56% were aged between 18 and 34.

These shocking findings, released on World Mental Health Day (Monday 10 October 2022), have been uncovered by EqualEngineers, a company set up by Dr Mark McBride-Wright to address some of the serious issues among the engineering and technology sectors.

The enterprise launched a survey investigating masculinity in engineering last year and published the results today. This is a first-of-its-kind research theme for the sector, which sadly has seen an increase in the number of engineers reporting suicidal ideation or self-harm – up from one in five in 2019.

It explores the huge numbers who’ve experienced incidents of aggression at work, how uncomfortable engineers feel when discussing depression and financial problems with their employer and it examines a culture of men being expected to control their emotions by not showing fear, weakness or crying openly.

The Masculinity in Engineering research, which also makes recommendations on how to improve the situation engineers are facing, is the brainchild of Dr McBride-Wright – managing director of EqualEngineers – who set the company up after years of working in the sector and seeing not only the challenges that the lack of diversity can bring, but also the risks posed to health, safety and wellbeing.

Being a gay safety engineer himself, working for major engineering firms before later setting up networking group InterEngineering for LGBT+ engineers gave him the drive to set up an organisation covering all aspects of diversity.

Dr McBride-Wright says: “We felt it important to carry out a survey on Masculinity in Engineering. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, this forced a shift in working conditions. Sadly, this refreshed survey has found that there has been an increase in the number of engineers reporting suicidal ideation or self-harm, increasing from one in five, to now one in four.

“We are, therefore, maintaining our key recommendation to create parity of esteem between physical safety and mental health to address this mental health emergency.

“Engineering organisations are experts at creating physically safe working environments – we now need to do the same for psychological safety. Empowering people to call out non-inclusive acts and behaviours without fear of retribution.

“Creating cultures where engineers can be open about whatever may be going on in their lives, to seek the appropriate support and, importantly, to receive it.

“Engineers are needed more than ever to tackle the big problems of today. We need to therefore become known as an open and welcoming sector where everyone can thrive, and this includes all of us who work in engineering today.”


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Dr Mark McBride-Wright, founder of EqualEngineers and the Masculinity in Engineering research

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