Editorial: Mike King’s fight against juvenile suicide


Mike King goes to Parliament with his wife, Joanna. Photo / Mark Mitchell


Longtime mental health advocate Mike King has returned his New Zealand Order of Merit medal to the cabinet office after Te Papa’s silent march to Parliament.

It’s a sad situation for the New Zealander of 2019 after a dozen years of trying to combat our pathetic teenage suicide rates.

King pointed out the enforced stigma of young people who raise their hands for help. “Currently, young New Zealanders can get free counseling by going to a doctor and being diagnosed with ‘insane’. Once they have had this soul-destroying experience, they will be placed on waiting lists to join.” for a year. “

The Gumboot Friday fund, established by King’s Key to Life Charitable Trust, has been offering 15,000 “free” consultations for the past two years. Young people can access the online offer themselves and choose a consultant in their area, and the fund then pays the bill. The fund estimates that up to 40 percent of the children who used it were under 10 years old.

It is estimated that the fund has provided more than 15,000 advisory sessions. At an average cost of $ 124 per session, the charity has provided over $ 1.8 million in assistance to young people.

However, the fund’s supporters point out that not one dollar was contributed by the government. “When we visited the former general manager of Mental Health last September, we were clearly told that Gumboot Friday did not fit into the funds available,” says King.

Could King’s directness be the problem? Asks fellow broadcaster Hamish Coleman-Ross, “For 12 years, has the Department of Health’s administration of the mental health system offended those in power enough to ignore a viable solution in retaliation?”

It’s not hard to figure out who might have upset King. He has labeled everyone in the system from top to bottom as “idiots” and “outside”. “They sit down there and talk to their friends who wrote papers … and ignore the people who use those services.”

There is no doubt about King’s passion and he has become more and more direct about the solutions he believes are being ignored. And the “success” of his charity may have made him less inclined to work with agencies that he believes have done more to the problem than alleviated it.

However, his passion has brought him to the common rooms of grieving parents; in case of self-harm; in a world of pain. Who wouldn’t be impatient and tired of niceties and platitudes after 12 years?

It’s clear the government understands that there are pressing issues – three years ago it announced $ 1.9 billion in mental health funding. Health Secretary Andrew Little reportedly said he knew there was frustration, but officials are moving as quickly as possible with the capacity available to them.

Is Mike King right? We know he’s not wrong to try. New Zealand has that highest youth suicide rate in the world.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Hotline for the suicide crisis: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available around the clock)
• Youth welfare: (06) 3555 906
• Youth line: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available around the clock)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1:00 pm to 11:00 pm)
• Depression hotline: 0800 111 757 (available around the clock)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Hotline: 1737

If it’s an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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