Mental health is usually the last thing on the list. It sits behind: a) get something to eat, b) check that the load’s secure, c) clean the windshield, d) call home to check if that mail came in, and on and on. For truckers who are in the top 5 professionals at risk of mental health issues, though, this needs priority.
Truckers perform an essential role in our whole country’s economy, but they are one of the most isolated and overlooked professions in it. The trucking industry supplies over 72% of the nation’s freight; but over-the-road drivers are the #5 highest risk profession for mental illness and suicidal tendency. This year’s Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent quarantines proved just how essential truckers have always been. But with some exceptions, the industry as a whole and the American public still don’t consider how the stress of the job plus added factors like the housing crisis or this current pandemic weighs on each driver as a person. Often, truckers have to take care of their own mental health and look out for each other because no one else is close enough or caring enough to help. The most tragic outcome is a trucker driven to take his or her own life who could have gotten help and made it through, instead.
It’s important to say this up front about suicide: you matter. Your life has value. Outside of any argument for the rightness or wrongness of suicide, people who are driven down a road of isolation and desperation need to know that they are worth something.
Now for the practical part: how can you recognize and help prevent suicidal thoughts and actions – for yourself and other truckers? We’ve included links to the Suicide Prevention website that give great advice and options, but here are some basic tips and steps below.
How to recognize suicidal tendency:
Did the person have recent, sudden mood changes?
Are they more quiet and shut-in than before?
Have they talked about suicide seriously? Serious talk includes: 1. The Means (like a gun or pills). 2. A Method to use Means. 3. A Plan to use Method and Means.
Check out this link for more help recognizing the signs.
How to help someone who is struggling:
Community and activity are common aids. So is professional psychiatric help. But truckers don’t have easy access to any of these, so…
Talk with someone who is struggling and be willing to listen.
Get involved with their struggle and process.
Find help from people or agencies who know crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Connect the struggling person with them.
Check out this link for lots more info and tips.
What if you are struggling?
Open up to other people you can trust and be honest about your struggle. Don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline [(800) 273-8255] and check out this last link for helpful ideas and advice.
CDL Legal is a legal service provider for professional drivers. Our highest priority is protecting CDL licenses so drivers can keep driving. If you need legal help or advice, or just someone to talk to while you’re on the road, call us. (913) 738-4836 or visit us online at https://cdllegal.com/