Eighteen months ago, I wrote a story on Stuff Nation about our dangerous perception of mental health and our looming crisis. I am ashamed and saddened that since that story, another 606 Kiwis have taken their own lives. What’s more alarming is that 457 of those are men. That’s 75 per cent and indicative of a sinister problem in our country.
Let’s talk about suicide
This problem is spiralling out of control, and like our polluted rivers, is leaching into every inch of our beautiful country. Part of it stems from our inability to talk about our emotions; our mental well-being and state of mind. Women are seemingly OK at it, men are terrible.
Our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude is destroying us from the inside, and has created a dangerous stigma around talking about mental health. To put it frankly, we are imploding.
If more than eight men are taking their lives every single week – more than one a day – isn’t it time we placed relentless pressure on our government and society to stand up and address this issue with urgency?
We have pleaded for a national suicide reduction target, an urgent independent inquiry into New Zealand’s mental health crisis, yet we have seen no result.
Former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman outright rejected setting a suicide reduction target under a National government, so now our hope lies with the Labour government and new minister, David Clark.
What else could we be doing as friends, family; as a community? Do we have the right support mechanisms in place in our own social networks, or do we find it simply too hard and uncomfortable to discuss? Are we supporting and encouraging our men to speak out, or are we perpetuating the same Kiwi attitude that has seen so many of our treasured men fall?
These are some of the questions that catapult through my mind as I attempt to run 120km+ this month for men’s mental health through my pursuit of awareness this Movember.
If there’s just one thing you can do this November, reach out to the men in your life and let them know you are there.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling
Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 – Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.
Tautoko: 0508 828 865 – provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to 11pm)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm – 6pm weekdays)
The Lowdown: thelowdown.co.nz – website for young people ages 12 to 19.
National Depression Initiative – depression.org.nz (for adults), 0800 111 757 – 24 hour service
If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111
For information about suicide prevention, see www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention.
– Stuff Nation