Vermont Launches New Initiatives to Address Suicide Deaths and Mental Health Challenges Within the Construction Industry

People working in construction and extraction have a suicide rate 3 times higher than the general population. 

Burlington, VT –  Suicide deaths in Vermont reached a record level in 2021, and a recent study looking at the occupations of Vermonters who are dying by suicide has identified several occupations where individuals are dying at a higher rate than the general public.  Based on a 2022 analysis of the industry and occupation of Vermonters who have died by suicide, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) found that people working in construction and extraction have a suicide rate 3 times higher than the general population.(1)  In response to these trends, VDH is partnering with several organizations to support initiatives focused on supporting the mental health of Vermonters working in construction.

This spring, VDH has partnered with the Center for Health and Learning (CHL) and PC Construction, along with the University of Vermont Medical Center, the Media Factory, and Chittenden Accountable Community for Health to bring CHL’s Umatter® Suicide Prevention Awareness and Skills Training directly to construction workers onsite here in Vermont.

The Umatter® Suicide Prevention and Awareness Training is a proprietary program designed in VT by Vermonters, for Vermonters and beyond. Umatter® is a Center for Health and Learning (CHL) program. Umatter® Awareness and Skills Training aims to enhance knowledge, comfort, and skills to identify those at risk for suicide in your organization or community and resources to get help. It considers our local and geographic needs in addressing mental health wellness and resources available locally and nationally. 

This allows the Center for Health and Learning to keep the core content the same while adjusting the scenario practices and the demographics included to align with the population being trained.  This increased relevance and familiarity to each audience makes Umatter® both a solid evidence-informed presentation and one that is flexible and fluid to meet the specific needs of each population. To that end, CHL presented its Umatter® Suicide Prevention Awareness and Skills Training to over 150 construction workers and contractors on site at PC Construction in South Burlington on May 24th and May 31st during their weekly safety meeting.

A trainee stated this:  The training equipped me with knowledge and skills to understand the topic of suicide better and spot any warning signs.

  1. I feel more confident in supporting myself and holding a safe intervention with someone who is having thoughts of suicide.
  2. The training helped increase my confidence to intervene to help a coworker or family member.
  3. The training increased my knowledge of risk factors/warning signs/resources and will help me identify and assist at-risk persons.

Facing Suicide VT

This training is part of the Facing Suicide VT initiative, launched in 2022 through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding to expand suicide prevention in Vermont using a public health approach. The initiative includes a comprehensive website,, which provides information and resources about how to get help for people struggling or in crisis. The website also features information about how to give help – including tips for having conversations about suicide. People can also see stories of hope and recovery from Vermonters who have personal experiences with suicide and mental health challenges.  Through this initiative, VDH is partnering with Invest EAP to increase mental health counseling, employee assistance, and overdose prevention for Vermonters working in construction. 

Learn more about the Facing Suicide VT initiative and how to get involved at

Learn more about the work of The Center for Health and Learning at

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, dial 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or text VT to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line. Trained counselors are available 24/7.

If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s safety or need emergency medical services, call 9-1-1.

Other partners who helped make this opportunity available

  • CACH: Chittenden Accountable Community of Health 
  • Howard Mental Health First Call Clinicians were  on site for 1:1 support as needed
  • Association of Africans Living in VT (AALV)- provided Spanish Translation as requested
  • Media Factory of VT

About the Department of Health

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1 — Working Minds ( and Dr. Sally Spencer Thomas