Kiwis must ‘take off masks’ to prevent suicide

Health Central

New Zealand mental health advocate, television personality and former comedian Mike King has some straight words for Kiwis about mental health.

If we want to prevent suicide and help our kids open up about mental health, there are a couple of things we need to get on to.

We need to do more to make those struggling more comfortable to speak up when they’re considering suicide, King says.

Last week, King made his feelings crystal clear in a Facebook post after Olympic track cyclist Olivia Podmore’s tragic death.

Schools all over the country have young people suffering from serious mental health issues, he says.

King notes when he was speaking at schools around New Zealand, he discovered about two in every five school kids will suffer a major crisis often associated with some sort of suicidal thinking. For some students, this is a one-off thought. For others, it’s recurring.

King says when people hear that statistic, they panic. There’s no need to panic though, he indicates. In his opinion suicidal thoughts are normal, despite some health professionals treating people who have suicidal thoughts as having a mental illness.

“Having a suicidal thought doesn’t make you mentally ill, it makes you human,” he says.

“If you haven’t left your house at least once in your life thinking ‘what’s the point?’ then you need to get out of the marshmallow you’re living in.”

King says the statistic New Zealanders should really be worrying about is that about 80 percent of young people who have recurring thoughts of suicide never ask for help.

“When you drill down and ask why, the reason they never ask for help is because they are worried about what other people will think, say and do with that information. In other words, they’re worried about us,” he says.

King says Kiwis need to start thinking about what we’re doing to encourage others to speak up when they’re struggling.

“Most of us have never had that conversation ever. My question is why?” he says.

Opening up to kids about your own vulnerability to mental health issues is important, King says. That way, he’s found they feel safe to confide in him about themselves.

King says his sincere hope for other Kiwis is that they “stop pretending you have your shit together.”

“If you take off your mask and be more vulnerable in front of your kids, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to take off their mask and reach out and ask for help before something tragic happens.”

Where to find help and support:

Shine (domestic violence) – 0508 744 633
Women’s Refuge – 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Need to Talk? – Call or text 1737
What’s Up – 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline – 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Shakti Community Council – 0800 742 584


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News category: New Zealand.

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