Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Whakamomori: Raw, open and honest

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  • 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

  • steven crawford,

    It’s hard for me to understand how what he’s doing is freaking people out. But After several years of celebrity morons under the fight for life charity banner, punching the snot out of one and other, with an audience using the opportunity to get shitfaced at the bar, without question, I’m not surprised.

    One good question that Russell asked in the interview, was ” What’s the follow up?” Something never asked of Sir John Kirwan, when he did pretty much the same thing.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Quite a different situation

    His demographic ?

    There was a multi-year MoH-funded National Depression Initiative (NDI) including helplines and suchlike running alongside his personal involvement in the TV adverts

    OK, so why are the suicide numbers unchanged?

    Those were all he had to do to make a difference.

    So what’s the knighthood all about then?

    Not saying John Kirwan hasn’t been helping. But what’s actualy wrong with Mick Kings approach to this?

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

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 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 steven crawford,

    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 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Oh, right, lucky you where here the clear that up for him. I thought he was using his patronising burocratic arguments, again.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Mike's road is harder. Much respect.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 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

  • steven crawford,

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

    Well actually, I don’t.

    I value when scientists, artists, parents (and anyone else really) share what they know here. It helps me understand the world better.

    I get that, and I urge you to really listen to what they are trying to say, before trying to explain how ignorent they are about grown up stuff.

    Now just to go back a cople of clicks. After the JK adds started broadcasting, our public heath system lacked the ability to respond to people with mental heath problems, in a timely fashion. I know from personal experience. It would all be different for people with health insurance. Adding that if you apply for heath insurance, you need to declear any history of mental illness as part of the assessment, which will have an impact on the insurability for mental illness.JK didn’t mention any of that. Why not? mabe because he didn’t think about a follow up plan. Mabe he assumed that everyone suffering from depression has plenty of cash, or the:

    multi-year MoH-funded National Depression Initiative (NDI) including helplines and suchlike

    would be adaquit, becouse everyone was clapping and applauding his heroic acts of humility. Please don’t get me wrong here. I think that the cultural shift, that the JK advertising campaign has achieved is valuable.

    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?

    Thankyou for reading.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 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

  • steven crawford,

    I came across a documentary film on Netflix, about the Golden Gate Bridge. The film is about what suicidology people call ‘compulsive suicide’. People regularly jump off the bridge. More than once a fortnight on average. A small number of people servive. One surviver shares his experience, particularly how he manages his bipolar disorder, in public forums, including schools.

    I spent my adalesent years living with experiences to taboo to talk about. That made me vulnerable to compulsive suicide, which was taboo to talk about. I still experience the same vulnerabilitys, but becouse I understance the mechanisms, I go all out there to understand it, which is really difficult, because it’s hard to find people who are prepared to have intelligent conversations about things that are socially taboo, without having to fragment all the components.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Russell Brown,

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

    This then raises the questions: who are the correct people? And why should we treat metal health in a demographically spacific way?

    This is not an argument. This is something I'd personaly like so see worked out.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    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.

    I can see some ethical problems there.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to steven crawford,

    before trying to explain how ignorent they are

    feel free to provide any examples as they occur.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Sacha,

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

    What Russell said above – the bit that says the school was not equipped to deal with the fall out after someone talked about suicide, is more alarming than Mike King not having a large well-resourced organisation. Whats going to happen if the lid gets lifted, by an actual suicide at the ill-equipped school, is my question.

    Is it at all possible Sacha, that you could use your knowledge of public policy, to point us somewhere that could help?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    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 • 22834 posts Report Reply

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