Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Whakamomori: Raw, open and honest

25 Responses

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The view has long been that talking about suicide to young people is risky, that it normalises suicide as a behaviour. There will be further concern that Mike's campaign is so tightly tied to him as a person.

    But we've spent a long time not talking about suicide and the rate is not falling.

    Exactly - there's no bad guys here, but there's a lot in the old saw that when you do what you've always done, you get what you've always got. That's not good enough any more, and it's no sign of weakness on anyone's part to say "We're not making progress here, it's time to move in another direction."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Good piece. I've got nothing but personal admiration for Mike King's personal journey. Kia kaha, Mike. And I don't get the connection between 'normalising' something and that process somehow exacerbating the problem. Sir JK has 'normalised' depression for many who regarded it as a stigma rather than an illness. Understanding something and being able to talk about that something and share your experiences is surely the first steps towards being able to cope/deal with it?

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to llew40,

    Understanding something and being able to talk about that something and share your experiences is surely the first steps towards being able to cope/deal with it?

    Exactly - by being too scared of normalising suicidal behaviour perhaps we make it harder to normalise suicidal feelings. If you can't put your own despair into the context of others who have had the same experiences then surely it's that much harder to deal with.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    . The view has long been that talking about suicide to young people is risky, that it normalises suicide as a behaviour.

    But being a completely selfish arsehole and talking endlessly and loudly about how well one is doing, and how you've come out on top ahead of others because... well... their just "losers" is ok!( maybe not that common in NZ, altho' kiwilog patrons seem pretty accomplished at it)
    Fuck its enough to make me feel suicidal!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Sparks,

    I had a completely different opinion of Mike King after editing the 'Target Zero' documentary. As a comedian he never appealed to my sense of humour but I'm filled with admiration for him and the way he manages to connect with people less than half his age. Handing out your phone number to who knows how many desperate teenagers is a huge responsibility and I'm pretty sure he doesn't take that lightly.

    Cox’s Creek • Since Apr 2011 • 60 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    Something never asked of Sir John Kirwan, that I know of.

    Quite a different situation. There was a multi-year MoH-funded National Depression Initiative (NDI) including helplines and suchlike running alongside his personal involvement in the TV adverts. Those were all he had to do to make a difference.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Petyt, in reply to Ken Sparks,

    I feel the same way. Mike King always came across as a nice guy but his comedy never got to me. What he’s doing now is so important, the documentary was amazing. Props to Mike King and those supporting him.

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    I get the impression, Sasha, that you are dissaproving of the none ministarial effort. Are you uncomfortable?

    No, I don't think that's what Sacha's saying. Just pointing out that there was a coordinated official effort to go with JK's ad campaign. It is quite different to what Mike's doing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    Steven, it's sad that you see someone adding knowledge about public policy processes from their work experience as 'patronising'.

    I value when scientists, artists, parents (and anyone else really) share what they know here. It helps me understand the world better. I do not believe I am better than anyone else. Maybe it is in the way I write, somehow?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Mike's road is harder. Much respect.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • John McCormick,

    I was a counsellor for Lifeline in the late 1990s. Ideas may have changed, but the theory then was that reporting of suicide can "normalise" it. For someone who is already depressed, the more they hear/read/see about suicide, the more it comes to seem like an acceptable solution. Copy-cat suicides did occur, and they seemed to be more common the more detailed and explicit the reports were. That's why methods of suicide are generally not reported.

    I haven't seen the programme so I'm only going on the comments here. If it is people talking openly about their feelings that seems like a good thing. If it goes into detail about actual suicides that could be risky. To say that the rates are not falling, so we have to do something different is not a justification for any particular action. There are many factors at play and new approaches should be carefully planned to reduce the risk that they could make things worse. No criticism intended, just wanting to say that there are good reasons for being cautious around reporting of suicide.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Sparks, in reply to John McCormick,

    Before editing the documentary I was given a specific directive to exclude any references to methods of suicide for the very reason John states. It wouldn't have been in any way helpful if we had but we did have to be careful when editing interviews with those who had attempted suicide. What is helpful is to hear from those people who have come close to suiciding but are now really pleased they didn't and have managed to turn their lives around.

    Cox’s Creek • Since Apr 2011 • 60 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    Mike King is doing much the same thing, but his target demographic is different. So lets get this correct. It’s different becouse it’s not sanctioned by the correct people? Or that the target demographic are young adults?

    I would say "not sanctioned by the correct people" is the main one, but both of those things are true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    This then raises the questions: who are the correct people?

    I'm not sure if "correct people" is the right phrase, but Mike's work is conducted through his own organisation, the Key to Life Trust, rather than through publicly-funded services. And it does seem that the social services mainstream is wary of his approach.

    One advantage of a coordinated approach is that you can plan in advance to get support services in behind a campaign – the It's Not Okay campaign against domestic violence is a really good example of that. I was asked to be part of the ad campaign, but the ad campaign was joined up with support and information – it got people thinking about the issue and then gave them somewhere to go.

    By contrast, something covered in the doco is the Northland school that Mike got banned from after he visited. Not because he'd done anything wrong, but because he'd been too effective – and the school didn't have the resources to cope with the demand from students after he'd spoken to them.

    And why should we treat metal health in a demographically spacific way?

    I'm no expert, but I think it makes sense to anticipate that teenagers might respond differently to adults – especially where there might be a danger of copycat behaviour. As Malcolm Falconer explained in the interview, one thing Mike deliberately didn't do was charge in to acute situations, shortly after a suicide.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    before trying to explain how ignorent they are

    feel free to provide any examples as they occur.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    It’s different becouse it’s not sanctioned by the correct people?

    Mike’s campaign does not have a large, well-resourced organisation behind it, to provide the follow-up that we all agree is needed. I doubt Kirwan felt that handing out his personal phone number was required. Mike needs better backup, which is mainly about funding and qualified staff. ‘Sanction’ doesn’t really come into it.

    Edit: what Russell said above too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to ,

    I don’t know you mean when you say “we all agree”

    Steven, this just seems unhelpfully niggly. Don't we agree that follow-up is important?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Yeah I give up. Better things to do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to ,

    Like I already said. If the schools can’t cope with just talking about suicide, how in the hell do they cope with it actually happening

    Steven, I'll get back to you with this after the weekend because a friend of mine is in one of Northland's High Schools and he is the Counsellor for the kids. I'll ask him how it works. I also know someone else who had a similar role in another Northland school so I'll see what the protocol is.
    Here is a recent survey's findings from the ERO, which may give some insight.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    Thank you. We're good. Some days I am too busy to explain clearly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    words, worth persevering...
    'Raw, open and honest' is never easy - and the above interchange of adults just goes to show there can be a path through, or several, when hands are extended, and minds aren't welded shut...
    To transfer a similar process of insights and openness down a coupla generations needs a lot of work by older people (and mechanisms of state) to show they are trustworthy and solid.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    +1

    Since Feb 2010 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Nice one, guys.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Hi steven, my friend wasn't at our usual Sunday "church" so info will have to wait until next weekend but I do see that the ERO (not bad reading) has some informative surveys and reports which help a little to identify where kids can and do seek help. I also see not all schools have Guidance Counsellors with recommendations to rectify that. It appears that the Guidance Counsellors will seek external help for students should solutions be beyond their capabilities.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to ,

    Hi Steven. I asked my friend on Sunday if anything was in place for Kids at his School dealing with suicidal thoughts. He said they have a full time social worker who deals with that and she does have experience in that area.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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