Seeking help should not be seen as weak


Long after attending the suicide of a young lady, I saw her mother in a local supermarket aisle.

Upon recognising me, a look of horror came over her face and she broke down in tears. I will be forever associated with the worst day of her life.

Every suicide is attended and investigated by police officers.

The year I was born, police were twice as likely to attend a road death as a suicide.

Now we’re twice as likely to attend a suicide.

Suicides increased last year to 606, showing societal pressures contributing to people taking their own lives remain just as constant as ever.

Musicians and suicide have long had an unhealthy synergy, but R.E.M. song Everybody Hurts was written as an anti-suicide song to reach out to people who felt they had no hope.

The lyrics were written in a straightforward manner and aimed at teenagers.

On a lighter note, the song topped a poll of songs most likely to make a grown man cry. Second was Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, followed by Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

What causes males, and Maori, to take their lives in statistically high numbers in New Zealand?

Why is our youth suicide rate so bad?

Stigma attached to depression being perceived as a weakness?

The tradition of the “harden up mate” culture in New Zealand, and pressure on men to be a particular mould?

The toxic mix of high rates of family violence and child abuse?

Maori issues surrounding cultural identity and the impact of colonisation?

New Zealand’s bad record for bullying in schools?

Mental health advocate and comedian Mike King has called for everyone involved in the suicide-prevention industry to be sacked, his outlook being lack of actions and resourcing and over-intellectual debate and complex plans.

Many commit suicide without letting on they’re thinking about it.

They’re not easy to spot; therefore, the people most in need of help are the toughest to save.

Often heard at a funeral is, “we never realised – he always seemed happy”.

I sought out counselling when a couple of youth suicides I attended in short succession stayed with me and affected me.

I don’t see this as a weakness – merely being human, and seeking assistance when required.

A high percentage of us have suicidal thoughts – whether fleeting or thoughts that grind you down.

It’s a pretty normal part of being human, yet asking for help is seen as a failure, especially by men.

This is the attitudinal change required by society.


Need help?
Healthline 0800 611-116
Lifeline Aotearoa 0800 543-354
Suicide Crisis Help
line 0508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans 0800 726-666
Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787-797
General mental health inquiries 0800 443-366
The Depression Helpline 0800 111-757
Youthline 0800 376-633 txt 234 or email
What’s Up (for 5 to 18-year-olds; 1pm-11pm) 0800 942-8787
Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14; 4pm-6pm weekdays) 0800 543-754 (0800 kidsline)