Mike King has a brutal honesty about why people hurt themselves and what we need to do to reduce harm.
“There are only three reasons why people take their own lives. One, I am hurting. I am hurting and I need the pain to stop. People say time is the great healer. Every day I wake up and it’s worse and I just want it to stop. Number two, I’m causing hurt. I’ve become a burden to everybody and if I wasn’t here, everyone would be better off without me. And number three, I want to cause hurt. You hurt me and now I’m going to hurt you. That’s it, so at the heart of suicide is hurt,” says King.
The Key To Life spokesman was recently invited to Te Wharekura o Hoani Waititi Marae to speak to teenagers and adults about suicide and mental health issues.
The suicide rate for Māori males aged 15-24 is twice that of non-Māori. But Mike King says suicide doesn’t care about race.
“This is a New Zealand problem and in order for us all to get on top of it, we must make it a New Zealand problem. Suicide isn’t racist, suicide doesn’t care whether you’re yellow, black, orange, brown, red. He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor. This taniwha will take anybody.”
King was open about his own suicide attempt in Hong Kong, stopped only by a vision of his daughter.
“While I was unconscious on the floor my then 8-year-old daughter came to me and she stood on my chest and she berated me, ‘What are you doing, we need you at home, what are you doing?’ I woke up two hours later. I booked myself on a flight back to New Zealand. I got off the plane and I decided I needed to do something.”
He admits to battling depression for years and it’s a constant struggle. He talks publicly about what he goes through in the hope others won’t be afraid to speak up about their personal issues.
“Having problems, having depression, having suicidal thoughts will not kill you. I promise you. Holding onto those thoughts. Trying to battle through them by yourself. Locking yourself in a room where this little fella can get to you. That’s the killer. That’s the killer, so we all got to talk.”