The IUPAT Helping Hand Program

For members of the IUPAT, working in the finishing trades industry is a challenging, yet satisfying career.

However, there are high productivity demands on the workforce to meet deadlines, as well as the aspect of danger if strict safety guidelines are not followed.

While those issues are well-known, there are other problems facing the members of our industry – suicide, mental helath and substance use disorder.

Suicide, mental health and substance abuse are no longer taboo topics within the construction industry. For years, construction workers – both union and non-union – suffered in silence.

IUPAT DC 6, in partnership with the International, wants to ensure that our members get the help they need.

Now is the time to address the suicide epedimic facing the construction industry. We strongly urge any member of DC 6 who needs help to get help.

The Helping Hand Program is a good resource to find the information you may need to help yourself, a co-worker, friend or family member.

Suicide Prevention

Help is Available

If you or someone you know is suffering, please know you are not alone. If you or someone you know is displaying the following three signs, immediately call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (Espanol 1-888-628-9454) or a mental health professional.
  1. Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself. Communication may be veiled, such as: “I just can’t take it anymore.” or “What’s the use?”
  2. Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun.
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

Other behaviors may also indicate serious risk – especially if the behavior is new, has increased; and/or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings (SPRC)

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention:

Each year, 42,773 Americans die by suicide (an average of 117 suicides per day). For every suicide, there are 25 attempts
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women
White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2014
The rate of suicide is highest in middle age – white men in particular

Research from the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, an organization focused on suicide prevention, has found that industries with the highest risk of suicide have the following factors:

  • A male dominated workforce
  • A widespread substance abuse problem
  • A shift work system
  • Access to a lethal means for suicide
  • Fearlessness in a risk-taking environment

When all these factors are combined together, it becomes clear that those who work in the construction industry face a far greater risk of suicide than those who work in other industries.

Warning Signs of Substance Use Disorder

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are just a few of the symptoms and signs of substance use disorder:

  • Bloodshot eyes and looking tired
  • Changes in appetite, usually eating less
  • Changes in physical appearance, such as having a poor complexion or looking ungroomed
  • Craving drugs
  • Difficulty completing tasks at work, school or home
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, despite knowing negative consequences (such as driving while impaired or having unprotected sex)
  • Inability to reduce or control drug use
  • Issues with money
  • Weight loss

Addiction is not a problem of willpower or morality, it is a powerful and complex disease. People who have an addiction cannot simply quit, even if they want to, as drugs change the brain in a way that makes quitting physically and mentally difficult. Treating addiction often requires lifelong care and therapy.

What drugs lead to addiction?

Drugs that are commonly misused include:

  • Alcohol
  • Club drugs, like GHB, ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy/molly), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol®)
  • Stimulants, such as cocaine (including crack) and methamphetamine (meth)
  • Hallucinogens, including ayahuasca, D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), peyote (mescaline), phencyclidine (PCP) and DMT
  • Inhalants, including solvents, aerosol sprays, gasses and nitrites (poppers)
  • Marijuana
  • Opioid painkillers such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine
  • Prescription drugs and cold medicines
  • Sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications)
  • Steroids (anabolic)
  • Synthetic cannabinoids (K2 or Spice)
  • Synthetic cathinones (bath salts)
  • Tobacco/nicotine and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vaping)

While these drugs are very different from each other, they all strongly activate the addiction center of the brain. That is what makes these substances habit-forming, while others are not.

A person with alcohol or drug use disorder also might experience symptoms of withdrawal when they cut back or stop use, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Nausea, dry heaves
  • Racing heart
  • Restlessness
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Seizures
  • Seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Delirium tremens
  • Coma and death

Resources For Immediate Response

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

Disaster Distress Helpline

The National Disaster Distress Helpline is available for anyone experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Call or text 1-800-985-5990 anytime to be connected to a trained, caring counselor.

Crisis Text Line

Text MHA to 741741 and get connected to a trained Crisis Counselor. The Crisis Text Line provides free, text-based support 24/7.

The Trevor Project

Call 1-866-488-7386

or text START to 678678 to receive help. The Trevor Project is a national 24-hour confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.

Trans Lifeline

Dial 877-565-8860 for help. The Trans Lifeline hotline is a peer support service run by trans people, for trans and questioning callers.

Dial 2-1-1

If you need assistance finding food, paying for housing bills, accessing free childcare or other essential services, visit or dial 211 to speak to someone who can help. This service is run by the United Way.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

For any victims and survivors who need support, call




for TTY.

If you are unable to speak safely, you can go to or text LOVEIS to 22522.

StrongHearts Native Helpline 

Call 1-844-762-8483 for a confidential and anonymous culturally-appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans. The StrongHearts Native Helpline is available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline

Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Caregiver Help Desk

Call 855-227-3640

to help you find the right information you need to help you navigate your complex caregiving challenges. elp Desk Caregiving experts are available daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.

The Partnership for Drug-free Kids Helpline

Call 1-855-378-4373 if you are having difficulty accessing support for your family, or a loved one struggling with addiction faces care or treatment challenges resulting from COVID-19 circumstances.

Support is available in English and Spanish, from 9 a.m. to midnight EST on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. EST on weekends.

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