Construction’s Silent Killer Pt.3: Ajax President Speaks Out to Prevent Suicide

Updated Sep 12, 2023

Editor’s Note:
This is Part Three of a four-part series that explores why construction has the highest rate of suicide of any industry and what can be done about it.

Vince Hafeli, president of Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, kept silent about his suicide attempt for 17 years, fearing it would hurt his career and reveal weakness, something he learned at a young age that men don’t show.

On this episode of The Dirt, he tells how that all changed and how he has become an advocate for suicide prevention in the construction industry.

head shoulder photo Vince Hafeli president Ajax paving and suicide prevention advocateVince HafeliAjax Paving Industries of FloridaHafeli speaks often at various places around the country to construction audiences, openly talking about his struggle with mental health following the death of his twin sons and other family members in close succession.

He has formed a program at Ajax to help employees struggling with mental health and to prevent suicide. In this episode, he tells how contractors can do the same at their companies.

He also reveals how to talk to someone you suspect might be struggling and how to recognize the signs.

“It’s a difficult topic to discuss until you discuss it,” he says.

So to hear Hafeli's story, to learn more about how suicide is affecting the construction industry and how you can help those who may be suffering, check out the latest episode of The Dirt.

Download the Mental Health Survey

The Mental Health in Construction Survey conducted by Equipment World was taken by 269 construction industry professionals from May 4 to June 1, 2023. Responses that did not fit the primary business criteria were not included in the results, and the observations drawn from the results were limited to responses from qualified individuals only.

Participants across the U.S. answered more than 20 questions about their current mental health, the most significant stressors in their lives, and the resources – or lack thereof – available to them.

Also in this series:

Help is Available

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988. Visit for crisis chat services or for more information.

In This Episode:

  • 00:00 - Suicide in the Construction Industry
  • 00:44 - What's Vince's Story?
  • 13:52 - Statistics: How Many Construction Workers Die from Suicide?
  • 15:58 - Suicide vs. Jobsite Fatalities
  • 18:33 - Think About Suicide and Mental Health Differently
  • 23:37 - How to Implement a Suicide Prevention Program at Your Company
  • 27:39 - How Do You Talk to an At-Risk Person?
  • 36:05 - Final Thoughts


Bryan Furnace (00:00):

Hi everybody. Welcome back to Equipment World. You're watching The Dirt. I'm your host, Bryan, and today we're hitting you with a heavy topic, but it's one that we need to talk about as an industry. We're talking about suicide in the trades. How do we recognize this problem? What do we do about it? How can we help your fellow coworker or how can we get you help if it's something you are struggling with?


Today, we're talking with Vince (Hafeli, president of) from Ajax Paving. He's been through some experiences and fortunately for us, he's willing to talk through them all with us. Without further ado, here's my interview with Vince.


I guess for beginners, if you could just take us a bit through your story, what brought you to where you are now to where you're actively talking about mental health and suicide prevention in the trades?

Vince Hafeli (00:56):

What brought me here? Well, it was a long journey. I grew up in the 60s and 70s through an age and time when men were expected to be the man of the house. That's what my dad always told me. Don't share your emotions, don't share your feelings.

Bryan (01:11):


Vince (01:12):

Don't show people you're weak if you want to get anywhere in life. I came from a blue collar family. I started in this industry pushing a wheelbarrow, testing concrete two hours a day, $4 and 50 cents an hour, $45 a week. That's where I began.

Bryan (01:29):


Vince (01:30):

1985, I began working in the engineering field on infrastructure projects. I'm tied to construction and it's a tough industry. It's a hard industry,

Bryan (01:40):


Vince (01:41):

I can remember one job, a high rise condominium I was an inspector on. I won't say the man's name, but I swear when I showed up at 7:00 in the morning, he was yelling. When I left at 5:00 in the evening, he was yelling. That was just kind of the culture you worked in. It was tough and you didn't get a chance to get a word in or share anything.


Then in 1989 in May, I learned that my brother was terminally ill. In June, my father passed, and then November and December my wife and I lost twin sons. And it wasn't long after that on my brother's 40th birthday, that was the day my brother passed, and my mother was gone shortly thereafter.


I mean, why do I tell you all that? By the age of 33, my family was gone. I grew up with a very close family. Everything that I ever did evolved around my family.

Bryan (02:42):

It was your support system really.

Vince (02:43):

That was my support system. And suddenly they were gone. They all passed, and again, I didn't talk to anyone about it. We get into the mid two thousands and my marriage is failing, yet in my career I feel like a rockstar. In 2002, I left and went to work for Ajax Paving here in Florida, which was my first true venture working for a contractor.


For 17 years I was in and around the construction industry. But 2002, my first introduction to working for a contractor. Then come 2007, the best year of my life, I got promoted to the Vice President of Ajax. I eventually became president in 19. Yet 2007 is the year I tried to take my life because I was on two different paths. I had this professional career. I didn't talk to anyone. Nobody at work had a clue. I didn't share anything that was going on.


Why? I came here in October '02, and in June of '03 I had told the president of the company that when he was ready to be done, I wanted to be president of Ajax. How can I tell this man that I can't even keep my personal life straight and expect him to let me run a company? I didn't share it with anyone. For 17 years. I hurt on the inside.


I came home from work in '07, I sat down and had dinner with my wife and kids. The kids got up and went into their bedrooms and my wife and I ... I don't remember if we had an argument. I think what it was is I loaded the dishwasher wrong again. It always seemed like I could never load the dishwasher right.


I got up and I walked out of the house and took my keys, started my truck and drove away. I was driving about a half mile from where I'm sitting right now behind our asphalt plant here. That's where I had everything that I was going to end it that night. I received a telephone call from my wife at the time. She said, "We know where you're going. We know what you're going to do, and your son is on his way."


My son, at the time, would've been 17, maybe 18. I wasn't going to let him find me that way. I did what I had done for years. I laughed, I joked, I said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm out for a car ride and I will be home in a few minutes. I went home, went to bed, got up the next day and went to work just like any other day.


That's '07. We fast-forward to 2021. Now, for 14 years I've carried that with me and not told anyone. I began a doctoral program in January '21 and I wanted to research frontline leadership in the asphalt industry about how we take the guy that knows how to run the paver and the foreman just left and we make him the new foreman because you know how to run the paver, so you must know how to manage people.

Bryan (05:44):

Absolutely. That's the construction way right there.

Vince (05:49):

I wanted to figure out how to fix that. A professor in June '21, when I told him that told me that was pretty weak and lame. Go find something a little more powerful. I landed on suicide and construction. On July 16, 2021 at a weekly meeting here at Ajax, I had a room full of 16 of my department heads. We meet weekly, and in that meeting I told them, "Hey, I'm going to begin researching the topic for my doctoral program, and on January 3, 2022 at our annual safety day, we are going to roll this out. We're going to roll it out to the employees about changing the culture of our company."


We've always had a great culture. That's just who we are. But I said, "This is going to make us even better. It's going to make us more caring." We talked about that and for whatever reason that day, I can't tell you why, I had no plan to, it just felt right for me to suddenly to tell someone about that night '07. I started telling these 16 people. I can tell you that you could have dropped a feather in the room and heard it hit the floor. There was utter silence. There was no communication, there was no conversation, there was no dialect. There was only me talking and blank stares around the room.


Hey, I get it. Right? For 14 years I've not talked about this, so how can I now expect them after four minutes to want to jump in on the conversation? We finished it. I said, "That's all I've got for you." They got up and left the room again with nothing said. I kind of sat there for a few minutes emotionally drained, and I eventually got up and went back to my office.

Bryan (07:32):

I hate to cut you off there, but that would've been an extremely hard vulnerable moment, and to have that sort of a reaction probably compounded how difficult it was. If someone's watching this that is struggling and is afraid of that moment, what would you say to them about your feelings after you got that off your chest?

Vince (07:57):

I felt greatly different. That was the beginning of me healing. That was the beginning of me becoming a better person again. That was the beginning of me being able to sleep again. That was the beginning of me being able to better live with myself. I always thought the people were going to think that I was weak. I didn't want to share it because I didn't want to lose my job.


Everything that I ever thought would happen, just the opposite happened. I told my story at a meeting in West Palm Beach to a group of contractors at a peer group meeting. One of the contractors in the room wanted to discuss. He had lost two employee to suicide the previous year and he wanted to talk about that to the group. A gentleman in the room leaned over in my ear and he said, "The people that take their life by suicide have chemical imbalances. They're wired wrong at birth, they're bipolar, they're just not right."


As you can imagine, that kind of sat wrong with me. I stopped the meeting and I said, "Time out. I'm going to tell a story. I'm going to tell a story not even the owner of our company knows," and the owner of the company was in the room sitting at the end of the table. I told the story and the whole time I'm thinking, "Well, this will be the day that I lose my job."


The talk ended, everyone in the room clapped and I said, "Hey, I'm not looking for your applause. I'm not looking for any of that. I'm just looking for you to acknowledge that people can get to that point in their life just like I did. I've never been an alcoholic. I've never been addicted to drugs. Until 2022 I had never talked to a counselor. I would like to think that most people would point at me and tell their kids, if you could ever grow up and be someone, be like that guy."

Bryan (09:51):


Vince (09:52):

I'm not saying that in arrogance. I'm just saying that because I've had a phenomenal life. I had great parents. I had a great childhood. My career went from the bottom to the top. Everything to look at me from the outside in, I am probably the most calm and sane individual you would picture.


That meeting ended and we walked out of that room and when we did, the owner of the company put his arm around me and I thought, "Well, here it comes." He said, "That was very powerful and I'm proud of you for doing that. You need to do that more."

Bryan (10:21):

Wow. That says a lot about him.

Vince (10:24):

I always say this is a difficult topic to discuss until you discuss it. Once you finally say that, "Hey, I'm struggling," you're going to find out that the majority of the people around you have either struggled at some point or they're struggling now. In the last eight months I've talked to over 10,000 people in person. Of those, over 10,000 people and of thousands of posts on LinkedIn, I have had one person insult me. Everybody else has been nothing but caring and wanting to share their stories and talk about their struggle, ask for advice and guidance.


The one gentleman that pushed back on me that I alluded to earlier, "This topic has no place in the office. This topic has no place in the field." That was his pushback. But here's what I ask people. Let's say you're a paving contractor and let's say you've got an MOT guy directing traffic for you. Let's say you're a utility contractor and you've got a guy swinging a big trench box. Let's say you're a bridge contractor and you're setting beams on an interstate.


See, you give that guy the hard hat, you give him the safety glasses, you give him the flag paddle, you certify him to operate the crane. He shows up and on the way to work, he found out that his brother's terminal, he found out on the way to the work that his mother's got breast cancer. He just came back from work from losing twin sons. Don't you want that guy to say, "Not today. Don't give me the flag today. Don't have me lift the beams today."


And don't we want employers, like we have become at Ajax, to say, "Thank you. Thank you for telling me that you don't feel safe today because of a mental challenge. Not a mental sickness, but a mental challenge that you shouldn't be the guy that's protecting the 10 guys in front of you on the paver."

Bryan (12:43):


Vince (12:44):

We should applaud him for that. Not tell him leave that crap at home. We don't want to hear it about it.

Bryan (12:50):

And I would honestly, just a further rebuttal to the leave it at home, bud attitude. First of all, I can tell you, especially working up here in the North, in the summer months, I'm spending more than half of my life at work during the summer months. Here's this thing that is taking up over half of my living hours and I'm not allowed to address the biggest issue going on in my life here.


Then secondly, I would argue, especially in the construction sector, a lot of the mental illnesses actually caused by the work that we're doing in the workplace because it's high stress constantly. It's nothing but getting yelled and screamed at all day. You're dealing with the stresses of traffic and everything, and like you said, heaven forbid you got a 10 man crew that you're responsible for while you're swinging trench boxes or something over top of them. And yet, even though this might be one of the primary contributors to my mental health problem, I'm not allowed to talk about it in the environment that is creating the mental health problem.

Vince (13:51):

Correct. Well, let's throw these numbers out there so the people understand why we're even talking about suicide. Because in construction it's not an issue, right? So why are we even talking about this? Well, nationally, about 14.1 people per hundred thousand die by suicide. 14.1. In construction ...

Bryan (14:14):

That's nationally across the board or just within construction?

Vince (14:17):

That's nationally. That's men, women, that's everybody.

Bryan (14:21):


Vince (14:22):

Construction has the second-highest suicide rate of any industry in the US, and if you combine mining and extraction with construction and mining extraction the piece of our business. Right? You got to have materials to do work. We are actually the highest industry sector in the US.


Again, that number's 14.1. That's the most recent number. In construction, the number's 45.3. If you're an iron worker, that number's 70. If you're a laborer, that number's around 60.

Bryan (14:53):


Vince (14:54):

Men, 45.3. Women, 9.4. Below the national average.

Bryan (15:01):


Vince (15:01):

Women will open up, women will share their feelings, women will talk. They get it out, they get help, they move on. Men, again, 45.3 versus 9.4. It supports that we're macho men. We're tough. We're not going to share emotion, we're not going to share our feelings. That's why we're talking about this because in our industry, job related fatalities, two to three a day. Trench collapse, electrocution fall off of a building hit by a car in a work zone, two to three.

Bryan (15:34):

And to reiterate, that's what we're focusing all of our attention on is trench collapse, ladder safety, fall protection.

Vince (15:42):

Suicide, 10 to 15 a day. We lose a construction worker about every two hours to suicide in this country. I tell people we should have addressed mental health long before we ever began to address physical safety.

Bryan (15:55):

At those numbers, they speak for themselves.

Vince (16:03):

I get people that tell me, "Hey, I hear you throw out these numbers and I hear you throw out these statistics, but I don't know anybody that's ever happened to." Here's why people don't know about it. I'll give you the two scenarios …

Vince (17:28):

Here's why people don't know about it, and I'll give you the two scenarios. 2016, we lost Mark to suicide. It happened at home, didn't happen in the workplace. We waited for the announcement. We went to his funeral. The funeral ended. We all went to a little local brewery in Bradenton, Florida for lunch. Some people had a toast to Mark, other people didn't. We went back to work and we moved forward. Some people struggled with it, other people didn't.


A year later, we lost John. Interstate 75 behind the cones in our work zone run over by a dump truck. OSHA came, the Florida Highway Patrol came, our insurance carrier came. There was a whole lot of investigation. It was in the workplace. Everybody knew about it. That's a big deal. He was one of the two to three people that day. Right?


But that same day, 10 to 15 workers in that same industry who lost their life to suicide, and only a handful of people even know about those 10 to 15 because it's just different. It gets promoted different.


The doctoral research that I did, I interviewed industry executives, more than 30 of them from across the country. They were industry executives for asphalt producers, highway contractors, underground contractors, caulking contractors, vertical contractors, so from different pieces of the industry. One of the questions I ask all of them is, "When I say the words mental health, what do you think?"


The first thing I would get from them was a pause. A lot of them didn't know what to say. Not all of them, because I targeted some companies that were doing a good job with this. They had an answer, but the companies that were unaware didn't have an answer. They would immediately tell me that if people that are bipolar, they have anxiety or maybe even depression or schizophrenic. I'd finish the interview, we'd turn off the tape recorder and I would go back and I would educate them on two things.


One being the mental health piece. None of us should be ashamed to talk about mental health. There's this condemnation, there's this idea that when I ask you about mental health, you think about mental illness. If I were to say to you, "Hey, talk to me about someone's physical health," you don't immediately tell me that it's someone that's had a heart attack or someone that's had a tumor or a broken leg. You might talk about someone that runs marathons or you might talk about someone that just physically fit in your company.


Yet, when I ask you to talk about mental health, everyone jumps to the negative of it. We need to, and particularly men, need to learn that talking about mental health is a good thing. We want people to have positive mental health. Mental illness goes from zero to, "Hey, I'm really good," to 10, "I really need help."

Bryan (20:42):

Anything in between, we don't talk about in the construction industry.

Vince (20:45):

Exactly. We don't. Again, out of shame, out of embarrassment, out of fear of what it will do. That's one thing. I think it's important for people to know that there's no shame in wanting to talk about mental health. The first thing we have to do is that. The second thing I want to make sure that some of your people walk away from here learning is that people don't commit suicide. People die by suicide.

Bryan (21:12):

And what's the distinction there? Explain why change that verbiage.

Vince (21:17):

People commit robberies. People commit burglaries. People commit homicides. People commit all types of bad acts. People do not commit to having brain cancer. People do not commit to having a failure of the heart of some type. People do not commit to having a mental struggle. I didn't commit to getting to where I got to on that night in 2007. I got there through a journey.


People die by suicide. In one of my interviews, I was interviewing a mother. I said, "They say that suicide is like the most selfish act that an individual can do." And she quickly, when I say quickly, I mean quickly put me in my place and said, "My son was not selfish. My son had tried for a year to get help. He went away to college. He came back from college, he lived at home. He tried different therapists. He was just struggling so much on the inside and couldn't figure out how to get through it. The only way he knew to fix it was to take his life. Don't tell me my son was selfish and don't tell me he committed suicide because he didn't commit to there. He just got to there through his pain and through his suffering."

Bryan (22:31):

There was another bit of verbiage earlier when you were talking about that meeting and the one individual said that there's something wrong with you. I think that's another bit of verbiage that really needs to change when it comes to mental health, kind of in the same vein of what you were talking about. When we talk about getting cancer, it's not what's wrong with you. If we get the flu it's not what's wrong with you. It's what is happening to you that we need to fix?


I think mental illness, we don't look at it that way. It's what's wrong with you? Why are you having a problem? And that immediately puts this guilt and this sense of I'm failing somehow on the individual that's experiencing something that's really largely being caused by either outside forces or whether it is brain chemistry or whatever that factor is. Why is it their fault?

Vince (23:24):

Well, you know what? I don't think it is their fault.

Bryan (23:28):

I agree. It's not. It's something that's happening that you have to address, but it's happening to you. It's not you decided to get here.

Vince (23:42):

Several things have to happen for a company to help fix this. There was only one thing in all my interview questions and the research that 100% of the people agreed upon, and that was the C-suite has to believe in it. They have to support it. They have to be the ones to begin the conversation.

Bryan (23:59):


Vince (24:00):

The companies that I researched that are really being successful with this, that's what they're doing. The second thing that most of the companies are doing that are addressing this and doing well at it is they eventually, through the support of the C-Suite, the safety department handles it because the safety department boots on the ground out with the people and they encourage toolbox talks around it. They encourage conversations around it. Good companies are the safety people are looking at this.


Let me hit on how we did it at Ajax.

Bryan (24:35):

Yeah, absolutely.

Vince (24:36):

We did that talk on January ... Not we. I did that talk on January 3rd, 8:00 AM in the morning. I'm done by 9:00. We go through the rest of the safety day, and by 6:00 that evening I begin receiving emails and telephone calls. One in particular stands out, a superintendent. He said, "I've had this equipment operator that I feel like been struggling for months. I didn't know should I talk to him? Could I talk to him? How would I talk to him?" And he said, "We had to talk today after the safety meeting, I found out he really is struggling. He's going to get some help." That equipment operator came to me at our mid-year meeting and he said, "I want you to know that what you did saved my marriage and saved my career.


We started the program very, very slowly at Ajax. I tell people, I'll drink out of a straw, but don't get me to try to drink out of a fire hose. Right? We've not done anything with this for years, so let's not say we're going to save the world the first week.

Bryan (25:32):


Vince (25:33):

What we said we were going to do, you can go to the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. I'll say it again. Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and they have free toolbox talks. We went there and got some of their free toolbox talks. It doesn't cost you a penny. And we said we were going to do four toolbox talks that first year or one a quarter, and that's where we began.


Then we learned about some hard hat stickers you can buy from different organizations, and we spent $100 bucks and bought some hard hat stickers because guys like hard hat stickers, but they're out there about mental health, so it kind of put it out there in front of people a little bit. Then I had an idea. What if we started a team? Because people started coming to me and they were saying, "What more can we do? We would like to do more."


It began with our safety director came to me, it came from our accounts receivable. Lady came to me and so we started a team of three and then it became four, and then suddenly 12 of us went and got certified as mental health first aid responders. And through that training we learned what type of questions to ask. What type of question not to ask. Suddenly we had 12 people and I said, "Hey, let's have a team name." I came up with the Ajax Warriors. I didn't want a mental health name tied to it. I wanted something that sounded like, "Hey, these are the warriors. These are the people fighting on your behalf here at Ajax."


And so we did that. The 12 has now suddenly become about 50. We have people on a waiting list that want to go through and take more mental health training. Some of them want to take it because they want to help people at work. Some of them want to take it because they have a teenager that's struggling at home and they want to better understand what to do. Teen suicide, I know we're not talking about that, but since 2008 is up 150%. And the teenagers are the people that are coming in, there are our next generation in this industry.


There used to be this idea that you shouldn't ask someone if they're struggling, and you definitely shouldn't ask someone if they're thinking about taking their life. That's all been proven false. If you think someone's struggling, you need to have a conversation with them. How do you know if someone's struggling? There's all these documented reasons. If you notice someone's drinking more, maybe that's an indication. If you notice someone's starting to take drugs that they haven't, that's an indication. If they're getting hooked on maybe prescription medication that they got.


Simple things like that, though. We all have lunch together, but Larry sits over there now. Larry doesn't sit with us anymore. How come he's not with us? You're not going to walk up to Larry and say, "Hey, Larry. You're not thinking about doing something stupid like killing yourself are you?" One, even if he is the way you just ask him, he's never going to tell you he is.


You begin with a conversation like, "Hey, Larry, what's going on? I mean, you used to sit with us and have lunch. Is everything okay?" I tell people, it's just about being a good person. Is there anything they can help you with? Are you having any struggles? And hey, if he's been with you for a while, and maybe if he's not even been with you for a while, I got stories I could tell you about some of our people that came in and within 90 days are wanting to tell us about family members they've lost to suicide because they know we have those conversations.


Then as you begin to have the conversation with him, you may eventually get deep enough into that to where you have to say, "You're not thinking about taking your life, are you? You're not thinking about ending your life, are you?" Again, you're not going to say you're not thinking about committing suicide because once you ask him if it's committed, now he's a bad person. He's done something criminally wrong. No, "Are you thinking about taking your life?" "Well, no. I'm not." "Okay, well, that's good." We move a different direction. Right?


But if he says, or she says, "Yeah, I've been thinking about that," then your next question is, "Well, have you thought about how you would do it?" Because you want to know how deep they've gotten into the conversation. If they tell you, yes, I have, then you want to ask them, "Well, do you have the means to do that?" Are you thinking about doing this? Have you thought about how you would do this? And do you have the means to do this? Because if they had the means to do it, then that's where you want to say, "How can I get those from you?"


If it's a gun, "How can I get the gun from you?" If it's the pills, "How can I get the pills from you?" If it's, "Hey, I'm going to jump off of the building," then how do we keep you from getting up onto the building? How do we change where you're working at on the job site? Those conversations, I'm not going to tell you they're easy because they're not. They're difficult. They're hard. But there's a new national 988 number just like we have 911.


If I want to go to the 988 number before I go talk to Larry, I can do that to tell him, "Hey, I've got this guy. They've been struggling. Here's what he used to do. He's behaving really different. I want to talk to him. Tell me what to do." They will help you. They will walk you through that.


And then once you're talking to Larry, and if he tells you, "Hey, man, I'm struggling and yeah, I am thinking about taking my life." That's your opportunity to say, "Hey, do you want to call the 988 number? I'll call them with you. I'll call them and talk on your behalf. I'll call and you can take over the call. How do you want to do this?" And if you've got a company like ours that is addressing this, you can maybe say, "Larry, let's call the HR. Let's call Sandy at the office. Sandy will give us what resources we have as a company. She'll help you walk through this. If you want me to stay with you, I will, but if you want to be out of this because of whatever reason, it's a personal thing, you don't want me involved, tell me. I'll walk away."


You have those conversations because if you don't have those conversations, it's going to be tough if something happens and you have to live with the, I thought I knew, but I didn't want to say anything.

Bryan (31:54):

And it is in this industry, going back to the machismo, this is the manly man industry, and we don't talk about feelings. That's really a false scenario because if you think about it, we're manly men that don't talk about our feelings because the actuality is talking about feelings and emotions and asking how Larry's doing makes us uncomfortable. Really, I would challenge the industry. If you want to be a manly man, buck up and be brave enough to ask Larry how he's doing. And there's some bravery coming back from Larry when he breaks down and says, "Yeah, I'm actually really struggling in this area." That's where you have the man talks. That's where you show bravery.

Vince (32:39):

Here's what I would tell men in this. It took me to be more of a man to stand in front of people and tell them what I had been through. The first webinar that I gave with the Women of Asphalt, you can go Google it and go find it and find out if I'm lying. I babbled like a baby and cried through it. There were times when I didn't, but there were times when I did.


There are still times when I go and give talks and I travel two to three weeks of a month now across the country giving talks on the topic. A lot of the talks when I begin, I tell people that, "At some point in this today, I may cry. And if I do, don't feel bad for me, I'll get through it. Because some days I'm more emotional than I am on other days." Nobody laughs at me when I cry. People want to hug me and talk to me and help me afterwards. If I had a tough event.


I've not had anyone at Ajax, I've not had anyone other than the one guy say something. And that was on LinkedIn. I mean, if you want to be perceived as a leader, tell people your struggles. And until we man up and begin talking about it, we're not going to change that. I made a challenge the other day on LinkedIn. I have a bunch of followers, and my challenge was, by the end of 2026, we need to have these numbers reduced.


Hey, I would've loved to pick 24. I would've loved to pick 25. We're just starting to make a turn. And you don't turn an ocean freighter like you turn a kayak. Right? This is a big ship to try to turn, but we turn it by you being compassionate enough to ask that guy beside you, are you okay? Is there anything you need? And again, that's hard because he's going to answer you. And if he needs something, now you got to do something.

Bryan (34:42):

And I would also argue, too, sometimes you may not get a response, but the fact that you asked the question has now opened the door that maybe in a week or two or maybe in six months out of all the people he works with, he's going to feel more comfortable approaching you and saying, "Hey, I'm having an issue."

Vince (35:03):

That's correct. And you have to ask the question more than once. It maybe ask differently. On Monday I went over and said, "Hey, are you doing? Okay? Is there anything I can do for you?" And if he tells you, "Okay," on Tuesday, it may just be a glance as you walk by him, "Hey, man, I hope you're doing okay." It just keeps him thinking about it and it keeps letting him know that someone cares. Because when I was going through that, I really didn't think that there was anyone that cared. I thought I was alone.

Bryan (35:36):

Well, Vince, thank you for being willing to share all of this. Thank you for the knowledge that you've brought, the statistics that you've brought. This is just like we keep talking about this is something that is so huge, and yet it's very easy to shuffle and sweep under the table and not really have to think about it. And I appreciate the fact that you've made us think about it today.

Vince (35:59):

Let's all go make a difference one person at a time. Right? Just be a good person.

Bryan (36:03):

Absolutely. Well, thank you again to Vince for taking his time to come on this show and be vulnerable and share his story. As you can tell, this is not something that's easy to talk about. It wasn't something that's easy to go through. And yet, there are some of you in the audience that probably needed to hear this.


I'll tell you, it's absolutely worth opening up. If you're experiencing any sort of depression, any suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. And it doesn't have to be someone you know. If you're uncomfortable, if you'd rather remain anonymous, as Vince mentioned, there are resources out there. The 988 number is a beautiful example. There are people you can talk to. And despite whatever your brain is telling you in this moment, there are people around you that do care about you and you will be missed. I would highly encourage you to seek help if this is something you're struggling with.


As always, I hope we helped. Thanks for watching and will catch you on the next episode of The Dirt.