In Australia, the leading cause of death for men aged 25 to 44 and women aged 25 to 34 is suicide. Every year over 2,500 people commit suicide in Australia; around 75% of these are men.
Research has shown that men in semi-skilled occupations are at particularly high risk for suicide. Suicide rates among male operators and labourers in the Australian construction industry are very high. Data is not readily available for the Australian mining industry, but our workforce is predominantly male and aged between 25 and 44, with many employed as operators and in manual labour.
The World Health Organization estimates that for every death by suicide, three survivors will be left with a physical or mental illness that prevents them from ever returning to their normal work duties and 12 will require time off work.
Glencore Coal Australia has been working with industry peers and the national charity Mates in Construction to establish the Mates in Mining initiative. This initiative offers programmes developed specifically for mine workers, building on leading international practice in community-based suicide prevention. The Mates in Mining model for suicide prevention has been independently tested and found to be associated with lower suicide rates in the construction industry.
The initiative will do three things on site:
- Raise awareness about suicide and issues that can cause suicidal thoughts
- Make it easy to get help for oneself or a friend having a hard time
- Offer appropriate and accessible help for workers in need
We are currently conducting pilot programmes at our Clermont and Glendell assets to help establish an industry-wide model.