TRIGGER WARNING: Topics covered may elicit strong emotions.
Suicide is a large and growing public health problem and it has been for a while. But with COVID-19, the numbers have seen a large spike.
According to the World Health Organization, almost 800,000 people in the world die by suicide every year. “For each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicide and attempts have a huge ripple effect on families, friends, communities, and societies.” But there is something that we can all do to prevent this public health problem.
Our guest for today is mental health comedian, Frank King. Frank was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years. He’s fought a lifetime battle with Major Depressive Disorder and Chronic Suicidality, turning that long dark journey of the soul into 6 TEDx Talks to help others.
For Frank, suicide is not a new topic. Depression and suicide run in his family. He’s thought about killing himself more times than he can count. But with help, he was able to overcome this health problem and uses his life lessons to start the conversation giving people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide. He believes that where there is humor there is hope, where there is laughter there is life, nobody dies laughing. The right person, at the right time, with the right information, can save a life.
Mental health is an important topic and these are conversations we need to have more and more. Let’s start the conversation.
Frank’s career began as an insurance agent. But a few years into his career, he felt that this was not his calling. He then ventured out as a comedian. He knew that he would not have anything to lose if this new career path didn't work out.
But fortunately, it did. For 2,629 nights non-stop he and his then girlfriend hit the road moving from one comedy bar to another. From the “Comedy Condo” to the corporate side of comedy. A few years into his career, his business suddenly started facing bankruptcy, and that’s where he learned what the barrel of his gun tasted like.
But, spoiler alert - he didn’t pull the trigger. Frank used his experiences to start the conversation about suicide and mental health.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH COMEDY?
Who would you rather listen to for 45 minutes about mental health? A clinician or a comedian?
Mental health comedy is not joking about mental health and suicide but funny personal anecdotes. They call it comic relief for a reason.
Frank’s love for speaking and comedy mixed with his yearning to teach others about the importance of mental health is how his career as a mental health comedian began. In January 1, 2018, he decided that he would be a suicide prevention speaker. With his family history in generational depression and suicide (from his grandmother, to his aunt, to his mother), he knew that the topic for his keynote picked him - suicide prevention. He then began speaking about suicide prevention and spreading the important message around it.
WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT SUICIDE?
“You can be surrounded by love but the mind can be a lonely place at times”.
Suicide is on the rise in the United States, but people still don’t know quite how to talk about it. Although suicide awareness and mental health have come a long way, there is still so much stigma around them, which can make it difficult to talk about for those affected.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide has risen by 30 percent in the United States between 1999 and 2016.
It can be hard to think about suicide — much less talk about it. Many...
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