Sept. 9, 2020

Building Mental Health (Suicide Prevention)

Currently, the United States construction industry now leads with the highest suicide rate at 50 people taking their lives for every 100,000 industry workers according to the CDC. There are about 11 million industry workers as of 2019.  We share ideas to...

Currently, the United States construction industry now leads with the highest suicide rate at 50 people taking their lives for every 100,000 industry workers according to the CDC. There are about 11 million industry workers as of 2019.  We share ideas to provide help to those in need and build up our own mental health. Frank King, the Mental Health Comedian, says "You can make a difference, you can save a life, I can show you how."  The Easier, Better, for Construction Show is where people working to make building easier and better share how.

The show referenced suicide prevention link is available here at

Check out the Frank’s Ted Talks shared on his YouTube channel at

Follow Frank on LinkedIn at and at Twitter @theMHcomedian



Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. Join me and many others from the Lean design and construction community at their 22nd Annual Congress.  It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19th. Our theme is the ABC’s of Lean...Transformation through Actions, Best Practices, and Coaching.  Learn more at


The EBFC Show Intro Music: California by MusicbyAden  

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Free Download / Stream: 

Music promoted by Audio Library 



Felipe Engineer  0:04  
Welcome to the EBFC show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host, Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry in transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone join me and many others from the lean design and construction community at their 22nd annual Congress. It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19. Our theme is the ABCs of lean transformation through actions, best practices and coaching. Thank you, LCI. Now to the show. There is the man!

Frank King  1:11  
I feel bad. I should go put my jacket on.

Felipe Engineer  1:13  
I told you I was gonna dress up for you, man. You're fine. Okay. That's a good that's a good look for me to just to look serious for a little bit.

Frank King  1:21  
Yeah, you do look very professional. Yeah, I'm amazing.

Felipe Engineer  1:25  
I got cleaned up nicely.

Frank King  1:28  
Nice. Anywho, what are we talking about?

Felipe Engineer  1:33  
It's your favorite subject!

Frank King  1:35  

Felipe Engineer  1:36  

Frank King  1:37  
There you go.

Felipe Engineer  1:38  
Very happy to have my my guest today is Mr. franking. Frank, please go ahead and tell the audience a little bit about yourself who you are. You take as long as need to introduce yourself just right.

Frank King  1:48  
Okay. I am the mental health comedian. I wrote jokes for Jay Leno for 20 years. From the time he was guest host till the time he retired from the show. People asked me how I'm surviving the pandemic. I tell them I've had two aortic valve replacements a double bypass a heart attack three stents and I lost to a duck puppet on Star Search. This is not the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I've been doing stand up comedy Well, since the fourth grade when I told my first joke. 12th grade I did a contest talent show. Nobody ever done stand up. I won. My mom insisted I go to college. I went to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill graduated. They moved to San Diego there's a comedy store there. open mic night. I went down there. I made him laugh and I decided at that moment on stage. I'm gonna do this for a living. year later asked my girlfriend now my wife and 33 years Hey, look, I got 10 weeks booked on the road doing stand up in comedy clubs. You wanna come along? She said yes. So we put everything in storage. We couldn't fit into our tiny little dodge Colt gave up our jobs and we were on the road together. 2629 nights in a row non stop. Beer bars, pool halls, honky tonks, drunk idiot screaming tells him jokes with dance to come too slow and you can slow dance. I came off the road in 93 April, got a job at a radio station in my old hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. The number one morning show rock and roll morning show in Raleigh, North Carolina, which I drove to number six in 18 months. One of my proudest moments, I didn't just drive in the ground, I drove into Middle Earth. And by that time comedy club boom and busted. My aquas planes I made the switch for the room to the boardroom, from comedy clubs to corporate comedy. I ran that till the recession. And then business dropped off 80% practically overnight, we lost everything in chapter seven bankruptcy. At which point, I learned where the barrel of my gun tasted like. Spoiler alert, I did not pull the trigger. I tell that story. Every time my keynote a friend of mine was in the audience and he came up afterwards he goes Hey, man, how come he didn't pull the trigger? Hey, hey, man, can you try to sound a little less disappointed? Yeah, first story. And at that point, I decided I want to be a speaker who's funny, not a funny speaker. I want to teach people something. And I realized I could do suicide prevention because one person dies in us of suicide every 11 minutes. Hardly anybody talks about it. Unless you bring it up.

Felipe Engineer  4:30  
Then everybody's got a story. Which you and I did. We brought it up. Keep going, Frank.

Frank King  4:34  
Yep. And so I did my first TEDx talk. They helped me rebrand because everybody all the event planner, speakers bureau thought it was a funny guy, clean and funny. So I did my first TEDx and came out as depressed and suicidal. And it allowed me to rebrand with those folks that began my speaking career, you know, takeaways learning objectives, action items. I've done four more TEDx talks. Since then, I'm pitching a fifth A sixth, all on mental health. And I've been speaking since 2014 strictly on mental health and suicide prevention. I selected a number of occupations that have a high rate then as veterinarians, health care, and of course whiteboard, construction.

Felipe Engineer  5:17  
Dun dun dun...

Frank King  5:19  
Which is in the top two or three is construction, excavation mining are right there together in fishing, farming, forestry, then come the white collar. dentists are number one white collar at risk of suicide. So I did my marketing Delos occupations and it's made all the difference. It's you know, it's, I'm finally getting to the point where every speakers dream is for the client, not say I want to speak or on mental health, the client say I want the mental health comedian, that's the guy. I get phone calls, from people looking for what you're looking for me, which is really flattering. Even in the pandemic, I got a call yesterday from a guy in Denver, who's worked for a nonprofit and wants to do a comedy night. And they did here before. Yeah, raise money, but they didn't have any mental health comedians, they said comedians, and he goes, you know, we realized, maybe we're gonna do a comedy show, if somebody with some, you know, lived experience. Anyway, that's my story. I went from funny speaker speaker who's funny and and I coach TEDx talks, and I work with them until they get it flat fee. And it's called my till death do us part plan. And we work on that TEDx until you get one or we both die trying, which seems to appeal to 'em.

Felipe Engineer  6:35  
It seems guaranteed Frank, it's impressive. No, most people don't do well, at public speaking. We had an our company, we're a large general contractor, we do quite a bit of training internally. So people, they rotate through and get voluntold you're gonna have to leave the training at least one point. Yeah. That's the first time that that joke's actually made a laugh. So thank you, Frank, for laughing at that joke.

Frank King  7:03  
And you made a comedian laugh, which is not the easiest thing to do, because we're jaded. And we've heard it all.

Felipe Engineer  7:08  
So used to that voluntold phrase that I don't even laugh anymore, because it's It's never good to be voluntold to do something.

Frank King  7:14  
No. But if you're like getting paid...

Felipe Engineer  7:17  
We had a new hire recently. In the office, close to where I am here in California, and she was going to have to present for the first time since school, which was like, she just got out of school recently. doesn't like to public speak, which I think for one time it used to be the number one fear was public speaking.

Frank King  7:37  
Hmm, the Seinfeld joke, he had joke about that he was the number one fear. I'm more afraid of public speaking that I'm dying. Which means at the funeral, the guy given the eulogy would rather be in the casket.

Felipe Engineer  7:54  
Yeah, I think I do remember that one.

Frank King  7:57  
Yeah, people, people terrifies people. That's, I mean, I'm more comfortable on stage than I am in real life. So it's not a it's not a big issue for me. But I've had friends comics, who, one in particular, you should throw up before every show. That's how nervous he got. Well, I have a friend who quit. He's really really well and he got so anxious before the show he loved being on stage but that that period right before the show it just, you know, finally just quit. He said, I just can't, I can't take the pressure leading up to the show.

Felipe Engineer  8:25  
You've got a good a good story. Frank, I saw your your TEDx Talk, I'm definitely gonna put a link to it in the show so people can see your talk and and the the connection that you make with your audience is instantaneous, like I hear watching the show, I'm listening to what you say. And also how's the audience reacting to you. And you had people hanging on every word.

Frank King  8:48  
And my wife said she was watching one of my comedy shows, she goes, You know what I love to watch, I love to watch you seduce the audience says it almost like a wave. You can see from the front of the back, and to go over time. You draw man.

Felipe Engineer  9:03  
So that's what this this new person was asked, How do you speak publicly? Like, how do you do public speaking? And my answer was the dumb, just public speak. Like, just do more of it. You know, the very, very direct, and I told her my story that when I first started doing it, I was terrible. Like people would pay me to shut up. It was so bad. Thank you for laughing frankly, these bad jokes that I dropped in my house every day don't get the same kind of laughs I'm getting with you. 

Frank King  9:31  
It's like a farmer who is paid not to grow something. Yeah, don't remember that joke guy goes, you're not gonna pay this. You're not to grow corn. I think next year, I'll not grow tobacco. They're paying you not to speak.

Felipe Engineer  9:43  
So that was my my advice that didn't go over well, I think was probably in the delivery. Would you I mean, you do lots of different types of speaking comedy stages to hockey talk bars and then corporate boardrooms and conferences and what would you tell somebody who's Who wants to public speaker at least be good at doing it? Those masters Toastmasters? 

Frank King  10:06  
Yeah, it's a great, they've got a manual and they have a series of speeches all seven minutes. And he does like humorous speech and speech to convince and a speech you know and and it's a track you run on and it's a very receptive audience. You know they're all pulling for you. Yeah, they keep track of grammar and how many times you say Oh, and yeah, it's a great way. If you aren't already public speaking, I recommend people go to Toastmasters for a couple of years and get comfortable in front of the like, it's like it's like homecourt advantage. Getting in front of people that like you, that are gonna support you. And then because you know, when you got in the real world, especially when I was doing clubs, and I just had a guy pull a gun on me once on stage, I'm standing on stage over an offensive joke, or was it? No, it was Kingsport, Tennessee. It was a club called the grocery company was all dry goods store, three floors, restaurant and bar and comedy club. They loved the guy who came before me. guy named Pat Miller, three feet wide, three feet tall, 300 pounds. They had built a platform for the comics to stand on the guest up a little bit. That's walking across the platform, a board breaks under his foot. You can hear it all over the room. Best ad lib I've ever heard he tears the audience. He goes, nobody panic. It's just a stage I'm going through. So they loved him. They hated me. I look down about halfway through my show. And I only see the guy in the front row because of the lights in mind. But I can't see over his shoulder is the hand of the guy in the next row with a nickel plated 38 with a hammer bag pointed at me. So I turned sideways to make a smaller target. Lower my elbow to cover my vital organs as best I could. And just waited. And a woman in the back got tired of waiting and about 90 seconds she screams out either shoot him or put it away. Yeah, that's that's as bad as it gets. That's that's one nighters, right? Yeah, you talked to a comic they've ever done the road like that. The one nighters what holds the tour together, because they're improvs and really nice week long clubs. But the glue was those horrible one nighters in between time. And then when they disappeared, and they went no bars went to the next big bar thing like dwarf tossing or whatever. Then there was there were no, there were no more one night comedy gigs. And so you couldn't make a living on the road. So that's when I went into radio. And then in a corporate comedy. I've reinvented myself. I don't know how many times.

Felipe Engineer  12:41  
But at the core, I mean, you still connect with people. Well, and you are funny, Frank. Oh, thank you. Yeah, every time that we've talked, you've had me laughing every time.

Frank King  12:52  
You've had me laughing. I'm laughing dad jokes. 

Felipe Engineer  12:56  
I'll just hold it. Just be polite. That's all.

Frank King  13:00  
No, no, no. It is a sin to encourage mediocrity. I would not do that.

Felipe Engineer  13:06  
Okay, I'm gonna go upstairs and brag. After we get done. I just say stupid stuff. By accident. I get the good laughs 

Frank King  13:15  
I'm telling you. That's a skill. That's a talent to be delivered that way.

Felipe Engineer  13:20  
Take people by surprise. The reason that we connected and we want to, I want to definitely to have you come on the show. We kind of touched on this the last time you and I talked. That's like a recurring theme. And every one of my guests has been this topic of suicide and construction. And the last guest that I had on, talked about going to some funerals. Yep. And it's a heavy topic. It's the number one killer in my industry right now.

Frank King  13:47  
Yeah, that's great. Do you guys lead the league?

Felipe Engineer  13:50  
Yeah. And I did the the rate that's published on the CDC website before COVID is 50 for every 100,000 people or one out of 2000, just to think that on a crew of 2000 people or on a project or every two projects that somebody is getting to that level where they've got to just take themselves out. That's a very sobering fact.

Frank King  14:15  

Felipe Engineer  14:16  
And one of the things I wanted to ask you is, you know, how can we that that have so many touch points with people on the staff, in the trades on the frontline workers or people in the offices that have this connection point with all these individuals? What is something that we can look at? How can we be aware of what's happening? The state of mind of our of our people? 

Frank King  14:39  
Well, we can talk about the signs and symptoms. I'm going to my Google machine here. Yeah. 

Felipe Engineer  14:45  
Well, you look that up, Frank, we were we do an annual conference that we participate in the lean construction Institute. And last year, we were in Fort Worth, Texas, we had almost 2000 people in the audience and on the one of the opening days, the kind of opens up the whole session we do in construction the safety moment. Yeah. And we had individual, how did their prepared safety moment come up. And they talked about mental health and construction in particular suicide at that time, it was the second leading cause of mortality. And that was just October of last year. 

Frank King  15:23  
And, and by coincidence, this workplace suicide prevention calm and I put it in the chat box, he was they finished, they finished it in October of last year. And I think the, the premise is, take the pledge, be vocal, be visible, be visionary, be part of the workplace suicide prevention solution. Its guidelines for the workplace. And my co authors, Alec Spencer Thomas on the book on mental health help to put the guidelines together great. The pledge, again, to raise awareness. And we talked about this last time the one of the reasons construction has such a high rate is it's male, heavy, eight out of 10 people who die by suicide in the US, as of this year are men and you know, in construction, you get rough and tumble guys, you know, yeah. Men are raised not to cry not to show their feelings not to. And it's not just mental health. It's also physical health. You know how many guys I know who didn't ever have a PSA test or colonoscopy and end up dying of colon cancer something eminently treatable if you catch it early? Yeah, same with prostate cancer if you catch it early, he's got a 94% cure rate so but you know, men just don't you know, think that way many men don't think that way. So then construction against male heavy.

Felipe Engineer  16:44  
Yeah, it's a 91% male.

Frank King  16:47  
Yeah. So it's Yeah, it's that's one of the reasons I chose it as an occupation to focus on because they they have a high rate be to the construction industries credit they're working very hard to bring that rate down. Not every industry and the top 10 or 12 I've approached farming farmers Farm Bureau's and they have actually said they're offended I brought it up. Like in the top five. My we know that. Okay. All right. You know, farmers now with the tariffs in the weather. And you know, Macy's is a tough business anyway. And they're very solitary, usually working alone. deeply in debt. Yeah. So it's Yes, I'm good. Kudos to construction for stepping up and going. Look, we got it. We got turned around.

Felipe Engineer  17:40  
Do what you can what you feel comfortable with. Right? Sometimes people just need someone to listen not to solve problems.

Frank King  17:47  
Yeah, just listen. Just listen. People ask me what I do. My friend is depressed when I say don't say anything.

Felipe Engineer  17:53  
Yeah, don't give him advice.

Frank King  17:54  
Shut up. Yes. Listen, yeah, a friend of mine goes I just want somebody to cosign the BS I'm going through. Okay, now. The, the symptoms of depression. By the way, a couple of them that are relatively obvious, eat too much candy sleep too much can't sleep, has trouble getting to work on time in the morning, but rallies in the afternoon. And then there's a very visible one, which is they left their personal hygiene go, you know, the hair is not quite as clean clothes are a little more dirty. Because they're having trouble dragging themselves out of bed to go to the bathroom do a lot of wash, very obvious signs. I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell book called blink. It's about the adaptive unconscious and, you know, making sort of snap judgments but based on you didn't consciously, you know, hear or see something but in your brain, you know, something triggered and so you he, I think the first example he gave was artwork that a piece of artwork, everybody thought was an original, they brought these people in, and their first thoughts were like, Did you pay for this already? Yes, it did is too bad. And, and they asked her why she said that she goes, I don't know, I just popped into my head. So the point of the story is, if you walk by somebody, and the word depression bubbles up in your head, you know, after you make eye contact, go with your gut. It may be that you spotted something heard or seen something unconscious, that that triggered that thought that you know that always default to asking, Are you depressed and being persistent? Because people say No, I'm fine. No, something's wrong. Let's go my office and chat about this. I think there's something I met a guy in a safety meeting and he had mental illness circling the drain. He got to the point where he was getting his affairs. Order giving away his prized possessions, which is a sign that you're rolling up to suicide. He picked time placing method, there were a couple of cars and parking lot, they were unlocked. He knew there were guns in the glove compartment. He's walking out at lunch to one of those cars, he passes a co worker, the guy says something to him, he says something back. And the guy before he got back to his office thought, something's wrong, turned around, fall out of the parking lot, and was persistent, come back to my office, and he got back to the office and the guy broke down. He goes, I'm depressed. I'm to the point where I'm gonna kill myself. And I told my boss and he said, You got to get over it. That was his big cure. And, and so I need an I need to go to a mental health facility. So the gentleman drove the fellow was in crisis to the mental health. So they checked him in for three days in an outpatient program. That's the only reason he was at the meeting I was at, because a co worker had noticed something, went with his gut, tracked him down. And sure enough, his friend was about to kill himself in the car that day. So it's, you know, it's it's eight out of 10. People who are suicidal are ambivalent. They want you to notice and say something nine out of 10 give hints in the week leading up to the suicide attempt. Again, they want somebody to pick up on it and go, Hey, so if they say they're depressed, next question, this is a hard one, tough one. Are you having thoughts of suicide? And if you can't ask that question, you find somebody who can? And if they say, yes, you ask them, Do you have a plan? And if they have a plan, what is your plan? And of course, if it's detailed, then you need to get them on the phone with a Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or they've got a text line. Now for younger people, you you text the word help to 741741. If they won't pick up the phone, you pick up the phone, the volunteer on the lifeline will do their best talk phone into the hand of the person who's in crisis. question always comes up, when do you dial 911? If they're in immediate danger to themselves, or somebody else, you have to dial 911 you have no choice. Now, if their plan is not particularly detailed, my advice is next question. Are you going to kill yourself? And if they say no, here's the important one. Okay, then tell me why not make them give voice to what's keeping them around? So that's, by the way, that's not any psych psychology book, a psychiatrist and I came up with those two questions. Are you gonna kill yourself? Well, then tell me why not.

The idea being if we let people give voice to those feelings, maybe not as many people would die by suicide, because you know, people say, Well, he never made any indication ever even mentioned depression or suicide. If we let him say those things out loud without getting freaked out or locking them down for three days, then maybe people would, you know, feel more comfortable talking about it. Because if I said advice, if I say to a clinician, yeah, I've got chronic suicidal ideation, I think about suicide all the time, they are obligated by law to take me in front of the judge, they decide whether I need to be detained for three days with no shoe laces or belt. So in people wonder why nobody mentions if I go suicidal, they don't want to go get locked down. 

Felipe Engineer  23:17  
It's not socially acceptable to talk about those types of things.

Frank King  23:21  
It scares people to death. And part of the problem is, one of the reasons people don't ask is that they don't know what they don't want to know the answer. Because what if what if you asked me if I'm suicidal? I go, yes. Yeah, what now?

Felipe Engineer  23:36  
Yeah. Yeah, awkward. We're really good. Comfortableness people are not used to feeling uncomfortable.

Frank King  23:46  
No, it is a very intimate part of the problem is, if I say I'm suicidal, they don't know what to say. But they may be certain, they're gonna say the wrong thing. And push me over the edge. There's an urban legend. If you've never mentioned the word suicide in front of somebody who's depressed and I love the reasoning, they might give them the idea of suicide. What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that? Yeah, trust me, it's crossed my mind.

Felipe Engineer  24:15  
I think it's probably crossed the minds of more people than we think about if people step back and, you know, even like the every average day person. Yeah. I mean, who hasn't thought about their own mortality at least once.

Frank King  24:28  
And, you know, in this situation of the pandemic, and the COVID, and whatever, there's a lot of situational depression because of all the uncertainty. And, and even before COVID most people that I've met at some point in their lives, they went bankrupt, they got divorced, they flunk out of college, and they had a fleeting thought, you know, why bother? Well, I could just kill myself. This is just not worth the effort. I live with that, you know, day in and day out. So it's, I mean, it's not you know, I told you I had my car broke down. had three thoughts get it fixed by noon, or I could just kill myself. That's the way my mind works. There's always option C. It's like, well just kill yourself. There's an idea. But I'm so used to that inner dialogue or monologue or whatever. But I don't it's not a serious it was a serious thought when I went bankrupt because I had a million dollars in life insurance and my wife would be brokenhearted. But she would not be broke. No. So that's, you know, that's one of the things about suicide is people say it's a selfish act, not a not in my mind, not in the mind of the people often who are thinking about it, because I figured the world would be better off without me. My wife would be brokenhearted. Yes. But the million dollars would restore her financially, she wouldn't have to worry anymore about her next meal. And so it's really a selfless act irrational, but a selfless act in the mind of the person who's considering suicide, because they do think about the people that are leaving behind. That's one of the reasons they may be doing it.

Felipe Engineer  25:57  
Yeah, well, I think that whole idea of rational, irrational, I mean, there have been studies that show that, you know, if you, if you deprive somebody of sleep a little bit, their their IQ goes down, their ability to have rational thought goes down. If you put somebody under stress, your ability to think rationally decreases exponentially. The amount you get, you can get somebody all the way to the state of panic, where they're just operating, you're on the very core essence of their themselves, they're not doing any higher level thinking, they're not going to do a math problem. They're not going to, you know, weigh advantages, one thing over another, they're just operating on a pure survival mechanism. And if you're under chronic stress, that is significantly impacting your ability to think rationally. Yep. Or even just to be aware of your own emotions, like how far do you go into sadness? Before you recognize that you're sad? It's probably not like one day, it's a switch flipped, like the lights on?

Frank King  26:58  
No. But even though the irrational part of my brain wanted me dead, and wanted, you know, my life insurance to pay, my mom wanted me dead. There, the rational part of my brain said to me, You got to call your insurance agent, your life insurance agent and make sure this policy is gonna pay a million dollars, until I called and asked him how long I'd had it knowing there's a two year suicide clause in that particular policy. And he says, Oh, you had a train two months? And then he said, Oh, no, no, no, no, don't do it. because he'd had that conversation a number of times, and delivered Jack's go after somebody, you know, it was all paid up, and he delivered the cheque to the heirs. So I had to wait 60 days, 61 days before I kill myself, because I have chronic suicidal ideation. And I was well aware that I could kill myself on day 61 that allowed me to wait two months. And not knowing I could do it when time came. And my wife again, in my inbox, fortunately, by day, 61, I don't recall 6162 63 You know, when like, I was counting the days down to a DAC and do it. Life got a little better bankruptcy went through phone call stopped. Just enough relief in the depression that I wasn't thinking about it on day. 61. And here I am. Oh, so many years later.

Felipe Engineer  28:23  
Over a decade later, right? Yeah, decade later.

Frank King  28:28  
Yeah, and there have been some instances in the meantime, when I've had my second heart surgery, replacing the valve I had replaced, it's much more difficult second time around, and the surgeon said, Look, 10% chance you're gonna die. I would have framed it a little differently. But okay. You know, 9% chance, you'll do fine. 10% and it's open heart surgery. So they're rolling me down the corridor to surgery and I'm, you know, and now death is is becoming far more concrete. Because I'm thinking they're gonna put me out and I may never come back. And again, I had the thought, Well, you know, I've got a million dollars in life insurance. My wife's not going to be destitute. And then I'm in ICU, and I wake up, and I cracked an eye open. I looked around I'm intubated, looked around and thought, well, I made it this far. Oh, and because you're so you know, drugged up. I get in a private room. You know, they moved me to the room and they sit me on the bed and the nurse says Well, I bet you're glad that's over and I go what's over your valve job silly. It's over. Oh my god. I'm having the bag you know, it's Yeah. But yeah, you know, it's when it becomes concrete. All of a sudden, you know, 10% chance you're not gonna make it out the other end of this. So hello. which is you know, taking is taking a bit of the the shot Off the idea of killing myself when you get that close and so you know, it's 10% chance that says solid, you know, one in 10 chance you're not coming out that that changes your thinking a little bit. 

Felipe Engineer  30:13  
Your over emotional state leading up to that was what what would you say?

Frank King  30:18  
I was pretty good actually, I was making me laugh and the, you know, in the as I prepare you for surgery, I made the full bond of medicine, the anesthesiologist, nice people laugh. I had a thought during that period. I'm having a great show. My second thought was I better this may be my last one.

Felipe Engineer  30:37  
You're closing, you're gonna go out big.

Frank King  30:40  
Well, and I had a heart attack in 2002 years later, the two arteries I had replaced. occluded, they blocked on the same day. I'm two miles in the house half mile up a logging trail with the dogs all by myself. I've got T Mobile so I don't have cell service. never fails to get alive.

Felipe Engineer  31:03  
I got that's a that's my wife's carrier. So she's always like, yeah, you're gonna have to make the call because my phone's not Yeah, that was before the merger. I mean, now some allegedly, it's gonna be a brand new day for them.

Frank King  31:17  
Once we get 5g here, it'll be a brand new day, but I've called them more than once and go look, here's the deal. You got a great international plan 25 minutes a minute in any country in the world pretty much. And I go I'm in Cartagena, Colombia got four bars for GE in Salem, Oregon. I drive under a bridge the signal drops while I'm a well, why is that? I said, you know, Osama bin Laden plan the 911 attacks from a cave with a cell phone. What I want to know is who was his carrier.

So I'm in the woods, I'm having a hard time because it presented over my left shoulder where it always you know, angina always presents. But this time, when I had bowel problems, if I just stopped moving, it would stop hurting, you know, but this time, it just kept getting worse and worse and worse and worse. And people think if you're depressed and suicidal is 20 473 65. And that's not true. I mean, I have more good days and bad. But if I'd wanted to die, socially acceptable death, you know, where nobody really knew, except the dogs would know that I chose to in my life, I could have just sat down on the trail waiting for the nature to run its course that would have found me notice that I had a heart attack symptoms. Ad T Mobile couldn't call anybody. And so but I wanted to live so I had to walk a half mile down the hill. And people always ask we you know what we think about it, because when your heart when you have a heart attack, the muscle is dying. So you're dying. And you need to see a light to hear your relatives thinking about your wife, I had my first TED talk was going to be two weeks later on suicide prevention. And I'm walking down the hill crying. Because I'm thinking no God, I I'm not going to get to give that TED talk on suicide prevention. And I'm thinking about all the lives I could have saved, and I'm crying. I'm going to the car. I had to get the car, by the way, because we had three dogs, we have three dogs. And there's a busy road right beyond where we park. So if I didn't make it to the car, they'd be out in the road and they just log in trucks going back and they'd be done. So we're like, our family's pet center. We're like the Marines. We never leave anybody behind. So my goal was to get in the car, get the dogs in the car. If I dropped out then fine. Please, they'd find the dogs in the car. In you know, in the shade and my wife, you know, but I drove home. And I walked in the House said to my wife yelled, Honey, I'm having a heart attack down. 911 and I hear this I'm in the bathroom. I got the fan on. I can't hear you. Really? walked half mile drove to my hallway. No, that's not gonna happen. She opened the door, took one leg on my face, which this is her joke. She goes it was wider than the Oscars. Thank you.

Felipe Engineer  34:00  
Everybody's a comedian in your house. Right?

Frank King  34:02  
Yeah, very much. So yeah, the other day I was having trouble or in the car. I'm trying to put my gum in the little, you know wastebasket there on the in the footwell on her side on the passion. And I can't quite find as I can't find the opening. And she goes well, that explains why we don't have any kids. That's my lovely wife. So that's as close as I've come to Diane, since you know I had the gun in my mouth. And it's well, and the reason I survived by the way, is because if you put your heart into load every day, like on the elliptical runner, which I was doing, like an hour a day at 25 with the highest I worked my way up, you know, the highest surgeon said, Look, the reason you're alive is because what happens when you have a heart attack is all the architecture around your heart, the veins, arteries, whatever. They do something called vasodilate. If you've been working out they've get as big as they possibly To push blood the area that's under, you know, crisis, you guys otherwise, if you've been sitting on your cam for six months you'd be dead in the woods. But your heart was ready. All right, let's rock we trained for. Exactly. That's what we trained for. As reflect that on the show when I worked a shift somebody came up to me they saw me in the gym every day on the elliptical runner. They go, What are you trying to live forever? I'm just trying to survive that next heart attack. 

Felipe Engineer  35:32  
Yeah, you said you had two valve replacements, one heart attack?

Frank King  35:35  
Yeah, Valve has been 95 had a bicuspid valve, you need three cuspids is what you need. My dad had the same thing killed him at 40 I had mine fix in 39 I got a human valve from a donor or here's the joke, you know, a cadaver or an attorney when using it. And it had miles on it. So we didn't know how long it but it lasted 17 years, eight months and 26 days, which is a long time for a tissue valve. And so the next thing I got was mechanical, which should you know, theoretically last me the rest of my days. So and, um, you know, I'm a good heart patient, I am on a diet and exercise and I feel bad for my cardiologist because you know, they call it frequent fliers people come in get triple bypass, cut back smoking and eating pork rinds. Three years later, they're back. Now that triple bypass, you know, it must be frustrating for the doctor.

Felipe Engineer  36:34  
Yeah, it's hard to keep making those expensive car payments on getting that new Porsche every year.

Frank King  36:39  
Hey, listen that that bypass surgery is a moneymaker. I asked my nurse when I was in there for testing. I said, How's business? You good? Frank. As long as people in Oregon keep making bad lifestyle decisions. I'll have a job. One way of looking at it.

Felipe Engineer  36:55  
Yeah, I remember when I was younger, my first job was working at a sewage water treatment plant. It was like the same type of thing as long as people have to keep going to the bathroom money in the bank.

Frank King  37:09  
Yeah, as my dad you say even Queen Elizabeth has to do number two occasionally. Yeah, nobody escapes. So that's, you know, that's, it's I've come close to dying a number of times. But again, I'm not I'm not. It's odd because I have this chronic suicidal ideation. I'm not I'm not scared to die and I don't want to die. But I'm not you know, it's I've been so close so many times that did not say a guy called and threatened me one time he's gonna come kill me. No, he didn't. Yeah. Well, I did a cruise in the Pacific about the time the pandemic broke out. And I came home and everybody thought I came home dragon the virus. And guy calls me out. He goes, you came back to this county to kill everybody. And I said, No, I've got a list and you just made the VIP section. Calm comic. And he goes, I know you. I know where you were kinda. I'm coming to kill. Yes. Okay, fine. Thank two things. One, I've been trying to kill myself for 40 years. And I haven't been successful yet. And to know this, I don't want to die. But I'm not scared of dying. So put that into your calculations before you show up. Because, you know, if you come after the king, you need to kill the game, as they say, yeah, I'm asking you better kill him. I mean, you better kill me because if you don't, I got nothing to lose. So strange, strange existence. But you know, the that kind of pardon the expression frankness about mental health, mental illness, depression, about suicide. It allows other people to give voice. That's my job is to start the conversation to give people the opportunity to give voice to those experiences and thoughts without recrimination. And that's, that's, you know, I've been told more than once, you know, we brought you in here simply to start the conversation because silence kills. Good people talk and let them share their stories. So that's my job. That guy I'm on stage, I'm vulnerable guys don't normally be vulnerable. I get a little choked up when I tell my stories. And it's apparently, you know, it allows other people to do the, you know, I've had people come up weeping after I got done. And tell me a story. 

Felipe Engineer  39:29  
So and things that they've never told anybody else. You're making a space to start conversation and you're given labels to things that and our culture we're not allowed to talk about.

Frank King  39:41  
When I did the VPP, EPA, the safety organization and tell my story and and I'd grown man, grizzled, grown man linemen and things you know we're for the power company. Come up, stand there, the booth where I was and just you know, it lost a friend. A friend of 14 Yours in the last year to suicide I mean, it just tears streaming down his face a grown man crying in front of another grown man in an auditorium. He never he never had that conversation about his friend, you know, that would have been anything for him. I wish I had known I wish he told me I would have moved heaven and earth to keep them alive. And just you know, tears and so that's that's the power of sharing the story and giving people permission to give especially men you know, it's I want to make for the battle and I want to make talking about depression thoughts suicide as easy as talking about sports, or the web. Or you just you know, it's just the topic conversation. No taboos just, you know? 

Felipe Engineer  40:44  
Yeah, a job but you got a big excetra goal. Hi, Frank. That's for sure.

Frank King  40:52  
Yeah, well, I want to make suicide I want to Zero Suicide you know, won't be able to say someday well, Frank cat coming out speaking anymore. Well, you know, if people were killing themselves, I'd be speaking but that's my goal.

Felipe Engineer  41:06  
You could you could pivot and start helping the comedy clubs start going back to the horrible one nighters.

Frank King  41:12  
Oh, god, oh, Lord. Oh, yeah. And people ask me why don't you book comedians you know, like, get them work because they're comedians I would kill them. I died just they're irresponsible. They got no work ethic. Yeah, no, I'm, I did a podcast this morning. The guy calls it living on purpose. You're talking about having a purpose. And I and I said to him, I I found my purpose and my passion. I go to bed thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. You know, I just people call me all the time with a question about resources or they got a friend or you know, they have a problem. I give them my phone number all the keynotes. And I said like, you're suicidal call the lifeline. If you're just having a bad day call a crazy person. Here's my cell. Every time Yeah, and I get a call every now and then a kid young man called me. He goes, I can't believe this is your cell number. I go How mean would that be? To put a fake number up on the screen. I said, You know what, I'll make it even worse. Whole plays. And I said as a comic, here's why comic things. You know what the whole music is the whole music is another one, I suggest another one gone. Another one gone.

Felipe Engineer  42:25  
That would be mean, you could laugh about and joke about it.

Frank King  42:29  
Yeah. And people call and I, you know, because I speak the language, I hear the same music. They don't explain anything. You know, because neuro normal people really care and they want to help. But they just really don't know, you know what to say. And we talked about this, at the beginning, don't say anything, just simply actively listen, and be there for them that I don't do therapy. I just plant seeds of hope. That's, that's my job. Just plant a seed of hope. And then you know, and then if you have a conversation with somebody about the depression, follow up in a day or so just check in, show me care to make sure they're, you know, things are improving. Because they want somebody to mention they want somebody to interrupt and want somebody to come to the rescue on eight out of 10 nine out of 10 times so So the good news is, you know, we can make a difference we can save a life and we could do but doing something as simple as what we're doing right now is beginning the conversation on this.

Felipe Engineer  43:33  
That's great. So you got Yeah, we're gonna give the the work places suicide prevention calm. Yep, slash take action. Take the pledge. That's nice. Glad you take the pledge. We'll put that link out there for people will flash it up on the screen to those watching on YouTube see it, but it'll be in the show notes. It's good. The big takeaway from me talking to you, Frank has been listened to people that are welcome. Ask the two questions.

Frank King  44:02  
Listen to your gut. If you walk by somebody and you think something's wrong, go with that Malcolm Gladwell blink. Just go with your gut something in something somewhere in your brain triggered and you know, it's it's it's milliseconds sometimes. And you picked up and go with that. Better to do that. Then find out they died. Think Oh, man, I could have said something I noticed.

Felipe Engineer  44:31  
Yeah, have you knew? Yeah, regret is really tough to live with survivor's guilt.

Yeah, error on the side of being too nosy than to not care.

Frank King  44:41  
Well, and here's something that a company called Cloud clo. You don't you know them, but you don't know them. They make fire hydrants. I've seen clo on fire hydrants my entire life, and I thought I stood for something to see something. It's the name of the company cloud. They brought me in for safety. every January, they have a safety meeting. And they decided as an SLP is that if somebody in the company asked you, are you depressed and having thoughts of suicide, the first thing out of your mouth has to be, thank you for asking. So that the people who are you know, get that tickle in their brain and think something's wrong when they ask they're not worried. They're gonna get harshed on for asking or not, you know, it's first thing out of their mouth has got to be thank you for asking and then say, you know, I got a new baby. I've been out three nights, I haven't slept. That's why I'm a little off my game. But I think it's brilliant to insist that whoever gets asked, you know, I really appreciate you care that much. Thank you for asking. But no, um, you know, it's the new baby and I haven't slept, whatever. 

Felipe Engineer  45:53  
So, yeah, that's good. It's good to note. And if, like you said, if you see something there's, you know, tell you what technology has the phone number, the text message. 741741. Yep. Super easy to remember. And to text. Then just listening. I had a guy actually called me we didn't talk about this last time, but had a friend that I had made a few years ago, that we kind of, were the type of friendship where we talked just a couple times a year, because we're in different states. And he called me out of the blue and, and I just had that feeling something's off. It was like, the end of the day. Yep. And he starts talking and, you know, the conversation, that conversation ends up going three hours. Whoa, yeah. And it was, it was a lot of listening. on my part, I recognize like what this was, in college, I had been a resident assistant. So we got a little bit of training on the floor with I mean, like, next to no train just a mentioned, Frank of what it could look like if somebody is having mental issues, because that is actually something. And just the time that I was in school, quite a few people took their lives where I went to school in the big city of Chicago. And it wasn't talked about. No, and I thought the best thing I could do is just listen. And just asking questions. Yeah. Intuition, my intuitions. I just keep asking questions, keep listening. And then I could get a sense that through the the time that my friend was starting to feel better, just minuscule Lee better, not because of anything that I said. But just because somebody on the other end actually cared.

Frank King  47:36  
Yes, exactly. 

Felipe Engineer  47:37  
Plant seeds of hope. Yeah. And I, and I told my friend like, you know, you can actually call me like you did today, you've had my phone number. Right. And I did answer the phone when you rang it. It's proof positive that I didn't send you straight to voicemail. But I said, I want you to realize that, you know that I keep a pretty tight schedule. And occasionally, I can't answer the phone right away.

Frank King  48:01  

Felipe Engineer  48:02  
But if you call, I will call you back. So I said, it's, it's there for you to you can always call me and tell me what's going on and how things are going. And I do need to follow back up with my friend to see what's, what's been going on?

Frank King  48:19  
Well, and I've got an acquaintance who had a conversation with somebody like that for three hours. And the guy that he was talking to apologize, the end of the three says, I'm sorry, I you know, I dumped on Yeah, my situation for three hours. And my acquaintance said to him, Look, I'd rather hear what's happening in your world. And now things aren't going well for three hours. And to sit through 20 minutes of a eulogy at your funeral.

Felipe Engineer  48:49  
So, yeah, I told my friend to kept apologizing and I said, Listen, the only thing you can't do in this conversation is keep apologizing. Because you haven't done anything wrong. I told. You know, people that that struggle with that. It's these emotions are all part of the human spectrum of emotions. Oh, yeah. And they gotta they gotta be expressed. Right there. They're better healthier ways to express them than others.

Frank King  49:18  
Yes. For sure. Oh, good on you for hanging on there for three hours.

Felipe Engineer  49:25  
Yeah, not and this goes for any any of my friends that call. They know like my inner circle of friends know how much I love to talk on the phone. As you Frank have been a victim of my conversations before. You call me for 20 minutes. I think we talked for over an hour over an hour.

Frank King  49:42  
Yeah. That is correct. 

Felipe Engineer  49:43  
Well, yeah, I had to boot you off the phone because I had another call to go to.

Frank King  49:48  
That's the originally got up. We still be on there. Now if you hadn't had another phone call. That's right.

Felipe Engineer  49:52  
Yeah. I love to talk. I learned more from the people that that talk with me than the other way around.

Frank King  49:58  
Well, and you mentioned earlier on in this conversation that the topic of suicide kept coming up in the podcast. And after you and I talked that day, the next day, I got a an email from a friend who's in the dental business, and has a podcast. And you know what he said, he goes, Frank is the strangest thing. The topic of suicide just keeps coming up. In the last month or so I just know more so than ever before we need. So tomorrow, at 1215 my time 315 years, we're gonna do exactly what you and I are going to revisit because of the pandemic and the COVID in the uncertain days, and we got to do because I've done one already couple of months ago, because we got to do another dang thing just keeps coming up. So it's obviously top of mind for a lot of people. A lot of folks.

Felipe Engineer  50:51  
Yeah, it's top of mind. Like I tell people like just to get some perspective on what we're facing with the pandemic in the economy. We're in uncharted territory. Oh, great depression, which people thought was the worst ever. We're beyond those unemployment numbers, by far. I think the last I heard were north, just the United States alone, north of 30 million people unemployed suddenly. Yep. Alright, that's a lot of people in a country of 350 million, give or take three at 320 I think the last census data and then figure a large portion of those are kids, I think there's only like something like around 100 million working people, roughly. So a third of the country can't work right now. That's a large number of people that are not used to not working.

Frank King  51:40  
No. And with the depression banks crashed, you know, and then that was over. And they began to slowly but surely rebuild with this. There's this, you know, there's the original than the surge. Is it coming back? You know, should kids go to school? What else? You know, I mean, it's this is just, you know, there's no real beginning middle end, yet to this situation? Is it gonna be around like HIV forever? You know, it's just gonna be a chronic illness that people deal with from now on? We don't know. So yeah, it's the uncertainty i think is what is causing them. situational depression, anxiety, and of course, thoughts of suicide. 

Felipe Engineer  52:22  
Yeah, I remember. You know, in my house, it's, we have a weird house here. Frank, the engineer memory because house is very strange. My son is, is now 10 years old, since he was about the age of five. He's been saying like, he wants to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist when he gets older. And we were just like, you know, he watched some one too many peanuts cartoons. At thought he, yeah, he made, you know, five cents a great. Yeah. But little guys, like hold on to it. And one time he was, he was asking me, I was putting them to bed and he said, Daddy, what happens when you die? And I said, I was like, Do you know something? If I'm gonna answer your question, but do you know something? I should know. Yeah, it was mom whispering in your ear. And he just had seen something, you know, on a cartoon or you just got the sense at that age that Dad's not gonna live forever. Yeah. And we had to have that talk. And he was mad. I feel like he was probably four and a half, you know, or five. And he was asking about, you know, when's daddy gonna go? What's life gonna be like? And I said, well, it's not going to be as much fun as it is now. Yeah, yeah. He agreed with that. He's still agrees you know, even now it sounds I think I'm doing something right. He still agrees that it won't be as much fun but it's a it's something that you know, kids think about. Adults think about, we don't, we don't talk about I can't tell you that I've ever had water cooler talk. In my career, my 20 plus years of construction where suicide was appropriate water cooler talk. It's like you said, we're faster to talk about the weather, and sports. And then heaven forbid, but we do more often than we admit. Politics. Yep. But suicide doesn't come up right now yet.

Frank King  54:19  
Well, I did a show at lackland Air Force Base. The commander, Mary O'Brian, first female commander at lackland. They do a lot of drone. You know, work. She lost an airman to suicide. They were going to court martial him and he asked her the night before could she stopped the court martial said she couldn't and of course he didn't show for the court martial. He had ended his life. So she's carrying that around. So she hired me to come down and and talk to the gathered, you know, her the staff at lackland. And she sat down front made me really nervous and, but afterwards, I was still hanging out with them. A Public Relations Officer. And everybody went to lunch after I got done. And somebody came out and they said, Look, Frank, you know what every table and that lunch room in the cafeteria, they were all talking about mental illness, mental health, depression and suicide, because it was a, as I'm walking around, I can hear everybody's talking about it, when they never, never had never come up before. So again, once you once you, you know, break that down and allow people to give voice to it, then, you know, then they're willing to share so in the military, because it can be career limiting, depending on who your commander is. It's they even have hotline, yes, there's a Prevention Lifeline staffed by former, you know, military by veterans who Been there, done that, and you can talk to them confidentially without going to the shrink on base and risk, you know, your career being limited. So yeah, it's, of course, 22 veterans a day died by suicide one active duty. So it's a big problem. By the way, you mentioned college, three college students today died by suicide these days, three a day every day. So I speak. I speak at colleges as well.

Felipe Engineer  56:20  
Now that's a that's a really, these numbers are quite high. Yep. Is that that's an take of this probably just here in the US, not worldwide.

Frank King  56:29  
24,000 students on average attempt, and three a day in their lives.

Felipe Engineer  56:37  
Wow. Yeah.

Frank King  56:39  
Yeah. big numbers. It's, yeah, it's, I wish I could speak to every class coming in, at parent,  parents, students that weekend, when they're going into college and have the parents and students right there and talk about this. So the parents know what to look for the you know, the kids know what to look for with their roommate, you know, Suite mates, whatever. I wish I got to be there for them at the beginning. Because you know, it's not it's not the 13th year of public school, it's college. transition. 

Felipe Engineer  57:08  
So, okay, you got to do your own laundry.

Frank King  57:12  
Well, that guy, that's yeah, that would drive me over the edge right there. Yeah, because what we do is, I did this for a construction company called postvention. You go in after suicide, and you decoded for, it was a 30 year employee. And you get everybody together. And you, what you do is you put the puzzle together, in retrospect, pretty much everybody there had a piece of the puzzle, and about the suicide, but not everybody had the entire puzzle. So that, but when you put it back together, and then you step back and look at it, you know, everybody's recollections, then is obvious. Like, Oh, my God, it's right there. Friend of mine calls that's the tyranny of hindsight, when you put the puzzle together and take everybody's impressions of what have been going on, and add them all up, you realize.

Felipe Engineer  58:05  
Wow, it was right there. All along. You could see like, the movie in the book, the perfect storm, you when you look back at you can see the storm forming. And I hope people listening to the show, pay attention and just use all your senses. Like you said, Frank, trust your gut.

Frank King  58:23  
Trust your gut, your intuition, you walk by somebody, and the word depression pops into your head. Oh, and you know, and ask, you know, I mean, it's uncomfortable, but it's better than having to find out they've died by suicide. And you were like, oh, man, I saw that.

Felipe Engineer  58:41  
Yeah, hindsight. Is, is that way, we all have 2020 vision, looking backwards.

Frank King  58:45  
And to leave on a high note, a friend of mine says love is blind with marriage is 2020.

Felipe Engineer  58:55  
Yeah, it's not a joke. No, it's good. It was good. No, I know. Yeah, it was it. I think it's a good talk. It's, it's thought provoking. And you get you get an emotional response out of folks. I've had, you know, personal friends and family lost due to suicide, both in my my short 40 times around the sun, which is not that many. And sometimes I think it's, it's more prevalent than we know, we start, you start sharing those numbers and people start thinking about it. It's probably, you know, even under reported a little bit.

Frank King  59:38  
It, it is and then that didn't include the 65,000 opioid deaths. Last year, we don't know how many of those were accidental overdoses or intentional overdose. So the number may be much higher and and there are predictions that because of the pandemic, the numbers this year will be 10s of 1000s. Higher with the called deaths of despair. Because, you know the moratorium on evictions is gone, the moratorium on foreclosures is gone. And, you know, 40% of restaurants probably are going to open again. So there's, you know, they're going to re up to 600 bucks a week until the end of the year. So yeah, it's it's I worry that it's just gonna be a huge year for suicide.

Felipe Engineer  1:00:23  
Yeah. Well, no, I thank you for for coming on the show. And yeah, given us the vocabulary, and the way to talk about it. 

Frank King  1:00:32  
Well, and we both know you love to talk. I do. I do. I've never done an hour and a half.

Felipe Engineer  1:00:38  
I get. Yeah, I get I get notes from the editing team. Like, please get closer to the hour. You make it so hard for us to edit. When it gets loose. Yeah.

Frank King  1:00:47  
And you know what? Today, there may be somebody listening whose life we actually saved and I always figured that a good day's work. It's always a good day. All right, man. Well, thanks again.

Felipe Engineer  1:00:59  
Thank you.

Frank King  1:01:00  
Hi to my favorite Junior shrink at 10 years old.

Felipe Engineer  1:01:03  
I'm gonna say I'm gonna keep encouraging that and see if he if he goes that way.

Frank King  1:01:07  
I think if he knew that when he was that young, I knew at fourth grade I was gonna be a comedian. So if he knows that, that's, that's a gift. I mean, that is we'll see.

Felipe Engineer  1:01:16  
We encourage anything in this house, all possibilities until the last second.

Frank King  1:01:21  
Good for you. Alright, man.

Felipe Engineer  1:01:24  
Take care, man.

Frank King  1:01:25  
My pleasure.

Felipe Engineer  1:01:26  
Bye bye.

Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by a passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe, everybody. Let's go build!