September 21, 2021
September is a busy month in the trucking industry—maybe even busier than most, but it is also an opportunity to show real appreciation for our drivers. While we set aside a week in September for Driver’s Appreciation, this year not only are we showing appreciation for the drivers that put in the long days and sometimes night, but we are also giving thanks for the incredible teams that support them.
At D&D trucking and transportation, we know that our drivers are the backbone of our organization, but it takes some additional muscle to keep that backbone strong. September 12th marks the beginning of our Driver Appreciation week, but we think it’s important to celebrate everyone at D&D—that includes staff, office, shop, and drivers. We are a team in the most significant ways and would not be successful without the close collaboration that takes place daily. Everyone plays a key role in the success of our business whether they are supporting our drivers, maintaining equipment, or getting everyone paid, they are all a valuable part of keeping those trucks on the road and our truckers on the frontlines.
So, we take the time to express some gratitude to your teammates and our drivers while we celebrate them all!
September is also Suicide Awareness and Prevention month and although we try to build awareness all year long, we pay special attention to the support and needs of our drivers at this time. With the continuing pressures of COVID-19 adding to the already stressful job, truck drivers are 5th on the list of highest risk for work-related suicide. In fact, due to the nature of the job pressures and social isolation, extreme weather conditions, stressed traffic conditions, driving a truck is classified as one of the highest risk occupations in the nation.
It is for these reasons that promoting healthy mental health is vital to our industry and our companies. Driver appreciation should include the support, caring, and attention to the everyday pressures of the job. As fleet managers and owners, we have a responsibility to be aware of conditions that might signal support for mental and physical health.
Make sure that drivers are supported by surrounding them with opportunities to talk about the job and most importantly, make sure they have leadership that presents a comfortable environment to facilitate honest communications.
Understanding the impact of suicide is the first step in addressing the importance of awareness in your company and it all starts with touch conversations. These statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are staggering:
• The age-adjusted suicide rate in 2019 was 13.93 per 100,000 individuals. • The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. • In 2019, men died by suicide 3.63x as often as women. • On average, there are 130 suicides per day. • White males accounted for 69.38% of suicide deaths in 2019. • In 2019, firearms accounted for 50.39% of all suicide deaths. • 93% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented.
Additional stats to consider
• The 2nd leading cause of death in people ages 15-34 • The 4th leading cause of death in people ages 35-54 • The 10th leading cause of death in the United States
It is time to have the conversations and to erase the stigma that has existed for decades. Suicide is no longer a criminal offense and should not be labeled as such. Committing suicide is no longer the language that should be used. Suicide should be considered a cause of death and not a criminal act. People who die by suicide are not “committing” a criminal act.
Everyone should play a part in helping to recognize the signs of suicide because as the statistics show, it can be prevented. We just need to be aware and open. Pay attention to the following signals in your drivers or any employee.
• Anger issue that had not existed prior • Changes in physical appearance – weight loss or hygiene • Lack of interest in social engagements or activities • Sleep or eating issues • Increased and long-lasting fatigue • Difficulty concentrating, working, or engaging • Talk of suicide
If you or anyone you know are experiencing any of these signs, get immediate help or offer help to a friend or colleague who might be. Often people are not taken seriously when mentioning thoughts of suicide. It is a serious sign and should be addressed immediately.
As a company, make sure to post signage and commit to the supporting your truck drivers and staff in every way possible. Here are important numbers to keep visible. They have been known to save lives.
National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) Hotline: 1-800-950-6264
24/7/365 Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
So, this September after a very challenging year, please recognize the difficulties your drivers are facing, be aware of the consequences of stress and depression, and support them as much as possible.