By: Bed Flood
Comedian and mental health activist Mike King aims to show Rotorua that it’s okay to speak up.
King will hold two community korero on Monday and Tuesday at Rotorua Lakes High and John Paul College which will reinforce the need for adults to listen to their children about mental health.
They will run in conjunction with the Cool to Korero school programme where King will visit all Rotorua secondary schools to empower young people and urge them to talk about their problems.
Philly Angus, who helped organise King’s visit, thinks this is an ideal opportunity for young people as well as the wider community.
“Mike is really the driving force behind speaking up about mental health and suicide.
“No one can criticise his passion and we can learn so much from him.”
Mrs Angus believes it is important to highlight mental health as a community responsibility.
“We all need to make sure we raise awareness as a community and enable people to open up and talk about suicide and mental health.
“Even if people can come away relating to one thing Mike says, that can make a huge difference.”
Rotorua Lakes High principal Bruce Walker thinks it is important to address these issues with students.
“Suicide and depression are definitely issues that still need to be spoken about and Mike King does it well.”
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh agrees.
“It’s important for our students as well as their families to learn more and it’s an issue that not only concerns our school and community, but nationally as well.”
The Chief Coroner’s provisional suicide statistics for 2016/17, released last month, showed 606 people died by suicide in New Zealand – up from 579 the year before, which was the previous high.
The 17 recorded in the Lakes area – which includes Rotorua and Taupo – was down from the 21 people who died by suicide in 2015/16, but an increase from the 10 and 15 in the previous two years.
The rate of suicides per 100,000 population in Lakes last year was 16.16 – 28 per cent higher than the national rate of 12.64.
The figures showed those aged 20-24, Maori and men had the highest rates of suicide in the country.
“We’re a small country with a massive problem,” Mrs Angus said.
Rotorua Lakes High School
Gold coin entry
John Paul College
Gold coin entry
Source: NZ Herald