Mike King’s two-wheel NZ tour of hope
Instead of ambulances at the bottom of the mental health cliff, a campaigner wants to start with scooters at school gates.
Suicide prevention educator Mike King and friends are scooting around New Zealand spreading a message of hope. Rain or shine King’s 50cc scooter I Am Hope Tour posse will ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff visiting more than 50 towns and dozens of schools.
‘‘What is I Am Hope? It’s a tour where we are changing the perception of mental health in New Zealand,’’ King told people gathered at the road trip’s launch on Monday. The comedian’s message, which is backed by The Key to Life Charitable Trust, is that adults need to lead a ‘‘cultural change’’ making it ok for kids to talk about problems that left bottled-up can lead to suicide. Speaking at Smales Farm, King told year eight pupils from Northcote Intermediate School his generation was ‘‘screwing them up with our negative judgmental attitudes’’ toward problem-solving.
‘‘Kids have got covert ways of talking,’’ King later said. They will gauge how their parents will react by putting their feelings out as a hypothetical third person. ‘‘And the parents will say, ‘oh that kid needs to harden up a bit,’ and we don’t realise there is no other kid, their child is actually asking for something.’’
Statistics show 80 per cent of people in crisis ‘‘never, ever ask for help’’. ‘‘We also know 40 per cent of kids at school will have a
‘‘We need to be more open and empathetic.’’
major crisis in their life before they leave school and 80 per cent of them don’t talk, they’re afraid of other people’s judgement’’. Nine ‘‘work of art’’ scooters donated by Suzuki and painted by famous Kiwi artists including Dean Buchanan and Dick and Otis Frizzell will carry the riders and the trust’s message more than 4000km. I Am Hope wristbands will also be given out - wearing one signals to those struggling they can talk to the wearer without fear.
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111. If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7: DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 1737 NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737 SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666 YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
Mike King on a scooter painted by renowned Kiwi abstract painter Dean Buchanan.