Mike King predicts a rise in suicide rate

Mike King, who is closely involved in addressing the high rate of suicide in New Zealand, predicts the numbers will go up.

NZH: Mental health advocate Mike King is predicting a rise in our suicide rate

“We have to understand there are so many suicides that aren’t recorded.

“Coroners have to be 100 percent sure. So if there’s alcohol in the system, there are drugs in the system, if there’s any doubt at all that it may not have been [suicide], they are not recorded,” Mr King said on RadioLIVE on Saturday.

“The reason that those statistics are going to climb over the next few years is because as people have an understanding that this is a real thing, the threshold comes down.

“So please New Zealand, don’t be surprised when these numbers come up.”

That may be a warning based on what King sees happening (and not happening), it may be a shock tactic to make more happen in suicide prevention, or it may be a bit of both.

New mental health figures reveal 11.8 percent of 15- 24-year-olds are affected by psychological stress, defined in the Ministry of Health survey as having “high or very high probability of anxiety or depressive disorder”.

It’s an increase on last year’s 8.8 percent figure in the same age bracket, moving from 58,000 to 79,000 people.

That’s a lot of young people at risk.

Around one in ten young New Zealanders seeking mental health is having to wait more than two months to see a specialist.

New Zealand also has the highest suicide rate in the OECD for 15- to 19-year-olds.

Whatever it is we have a major problem with suicide in New Zealand.

Mr King says experts who blame poverty, housing and colonisation for the suicide rate are sending a dangerous – and incorrect – message.

This may in part be aimed at new Minister of Health David Clark who this week referred to poverty and colonisation – New Health Minister David Clark on youth suicide: We have a problem and we need to talk about it:

Labour campaigned on mental health and pledged the return of the mental health commissioner and an inquiry into mental health.

Terms of reference and other details around the inquiry were yet to be settled, Clark said, but forecast it as wide ranging, considering issues of colonisation and poverty.

He spoke of “hardship, or the after-effects of colonisation, or trauma in their own lives or personal histories”.

King’s view:

“Of the thousands of kids that I’ve spoken to that have been suicidal not one of them has come up to me and said, ‘Mike I want to kill myself because of housing’. Not one of them has said ‘I want to do it because of poverty’.

“What we are being told are the reasons and what I am hearing on a daily basis are completely different.”

“For most young people, their suicidal behaviour is driven by a little thing that everyone owns called the inner critic. That little voice constantly undermines their logical thinking.

“Self-esteem comes from having your thoughts and opinions validated by the significant adults in your life.”

Mr King says the solution will be found with communities supporting one another and not with the Government.

That’s a biggie – in our modern satellite society community interactions and support have shrunk. ‘Community’ is more often than not electronic based, especially for young people.

Rural suicides are a problem – modern farmers often work alone, rural communities are much smaller with a much smaller rural workforce, and despite their faults rural pubs are disappearing – perhaps in part the reduced road toll has become an increased suicide toll.

Clark:

“I think we need a public conversation about this. We can’t avoid it as a country. We have a problem and we need to talk about it.”

Perhaps a good place for him to start is with a private conversation with Mike King.

21 Comments

  1. Tipene

     /  November 19, 2017

    Three enemies of personal contentment, that, if taught as such, make quite a difference to the thinking and actions of a young person (and older ones):

    1/ Taking for granted what we already have;

    2/ Making unreasonable comparison with others;

    3/ Holding to an unrealistic ideal.

    Self-esteem? Egocentric, temporary, and assumes one must always “feel good” about themselves (an impossible goal to achieve).

    Self-acceptance? Realistic, permanent, and makes room for the entire spectrum of human experience (including failure, disappointment, and grief), without “bad feelings”having to be catatrophised, but instead navigated.

    The “experts” are a big, big part of the problem, because it’s their thinking and ideology around suicide that is enhancing, not reducing the problem.

    King provides an excellent practice-based evidential grounding to this topic, which is why he fled from the Govt “expert” advisory panel – to his abject horror, he discovered the same thing.

  2. patupaiarehe

     /  November 19, 2017

    Perhaps a good place for him to start is with a private conversation with Mike King.

    Touche’ Pete 🙂 I’d advise Mike to bring a few strong blokes & some rope with him to that meeting, if he intends to pull Mr Clark’s head out of his backside… 😉

    For most young people, their suicidal behaviour is driven by a little thing that everyone owns called the inner critic. That little voice constantly undermines their logical thinking.

    I remember ‘that voice’ from my youth. The more one tries to ignore it, the louder & nastier it becomes. Unless one can learn to hear it, but not believe what it says, it will eventually end them.
    This track sums it up well, and was one of Chester’s favourite songs to perform live. In a sad irony, he died by his own hand earlier this year 😦

    Why does it feel like night today?
    Something inside’s not right today
    Why am I so uptight today?
    Paranoia’s all I got left
    I don’t know what stressed me first
    Or how the pressure was fed
    But I know just what it feels like
    To have a voice in the back of my head

    It’s like a face that I hold inside
    A face that awakes when I close my eyes
    A face that I watch every time I lie
    A face that laughs every time I fall
    (And watches everything)
    So I know that when it’s time to sink or swim
    That the face inside is here in me
    Right underneath my skin

    It’s like I’m paranoid, looking over my back
    It’s like a whirlwind inside of my head
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    It’s like the face inside is right beneath my skin

    I know I’ve got a face in me
    Points out all my mistakes to me
    You’ve got a face on the inside too
    Your paranoia’s probably worse
    I don’t know what set me off first
    But I know what I can’t stand
    Everybody acts like the fact of the matter
    Is I can’t add up to what you can

    But everybody has a face that they hold inside
    A face that awakes when I close my eyes
    A face that watches every time they lie
    A face that laughs every time they fall
    (And watches everything)
    So you know that when it’s time to sink or swim
    That the face inside is watching you too
    Right inside your skin

    It’s like I’m paranoid, looking over my back
    It’s like a whirlwind inside of my head
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    It’s like the face inside is right beneath my skin

    The face inside is right beneath your skin
    The face inside is right beneath your skin
    The face inside is right beneath your skin

    The sun goes down
    I feel the light betray me
    The sun goes down
    I feel the light betray me

    (The sun)
    It’s like I’m paranoid, looking over my back
    It’s like a whirlwind inside of my head
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    It’s like the face inside is right beneath my skin
    (I feel the light betray me)

    (The sun)
    It’s like I’m paranoid, looking over my back
    It’s like a whirlwind inside of my head
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    (I feel the light betray me)
    It’s like I can’t stop what I’m hearing within
    It’s like the face inside is right beneath my skin

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 19, 2017

    Where does it come from, this inner voice? I don’t think it comes from nowhere. I think it comes from parents, teachers, peers.

    I pretty much don’t have it at all but I know people who do. It’s not an easy thing to kill.

    • patupaiarehe

       /  November 19, 2017

      I pretty much don’t have it at all but I know people who do. It’s not an easy thing to kill.

      I suspect the reason you “pretty much don’t have it at all”, is that your critical inner voice is lacking ‘ammunition’ against a successful & wealthy company director, Alan 😉
      Try being a teenager in a modern family, where money is tight & your future success allegedly hinges upon how well you do in your NCEA exams. Mum & Dad both work full time, & are too stuffed to cook by the time they get home, so the family live on takeaways. The teenager sees this, and hopes to escape his ‘meathook reality’, by studying hard, and achieving an ‘excellence’ grade, in order to get a scholarship. So when he only achieves ‘merit’, ‘that voice’ tells him he has nothing to look forward to, other than a life of working class wage slavery.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  November 19, 2017

        My teenage years were not so different, patu. Except I didn’t see either the scholarship at the end of school as either essential or as an escape from wage slavery. I did see education as an open door to a world of opportunity although I had no idea what that would really be or look like. Although our homelife had a major issue keeping up with the class wasn’t difficult so I accept that point of difference. But there were other measures of achievement – sport, music, art, chess, social so I don’t think academic work was paramount for most of my peers. Nor truly was it any guarantee of escape from 9-5 slavery. Other factors are critical for that.

        • Blazer

           /  November 19, 2017

          you said you had a priveleged upbringing Al…thats a big advantage in Capitalist society.

          • patupaiarehe

             /  November 19, 2017

            That’s ‘privileged’, Blazer. Correct spelling & grammar are an advantage in any…society 😉

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  November 19, 2017

            And I’ve told you before that the privilege was parents who loved us, not wealth, B. That is an advantage in any society.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  November 19, 2017

          Mine was similar Alan. My folks weren’t wealthy when my siblings & I were growing up, but we never went hungry, and were taken to the library regularly, since we couldn’t afford to buy books. Dad couldn’t afford to buy us flash toys either, but he read to us every night, after spending 10+ hours at work. We were encouraged to ‘arm ourselves with knowledge’, which served us well in our future lives. A ‘journeyman’ & a teacher, managed to produce four successful offspring, three of who have self funded degrees. The one who didn’t go to Uni, now manages a factory.
          I’m not sure who said the following, but never a truer word was spoken…

          The greatest investment you can make in your children, is time

    • Gezza

       /  November 19, 2017

      That little voice is just always there Alan. Everyone has one. You have one, but you probably don’t notice it because to you it’s just “thinking things through and deciding”. You have a strongly logical & decisive personality. When you encounter a problem you just think it through and decide on a solution. You don’t question whether you are right or wrong or agonise over that decision. Your sense of logic tells you there’s no practical point in doing so. You just figure out what needs to be done and do it.

      Many, perhaps even most, people don’t have the same personality as you. You’ll have heard the phrase that someone is “sensitive”. We all know sensitive kids. Some kids are naturally outgoing, not given to awkward self-questioning and internal criticism as they try to work out why they can’t be like other people who aren’t. Kids have different strengths and abilities.

      Deny it as the educators have tried to do, some people are natural leaders, some are loners or individualistic, and some are happy to be followers or to go along with the group and have their decisions made by the group. Even in communal societies leaders soon appear & run the consensus seeking process, often steering it and effectively deciding its outcomes.

      Even within the same family siblings can be markedly different in personalities. Good parents recognise that and regulate the way they raise their kids so that all are taught the same values and manners etc, but they tailor the way they teach their children self-acceptance. (I really like what Tipene has written in the first post. I think he captures exactly what the problem is with what seems to have become a culture of telling every little child or schoolkid they’re a winner when mostly they’re not.

      The kids know when they’re not. And they also know that in this culture of everyone’s supposed to be a winner, and they’re not stupid – they know that gold star is worthless – they’re not allowed to admit they need help or need to know how to do better, or to accept that there are some things they just aren’t good at, and they suppress any desire to talk about these things. Also they learn that the teachers mums, dads and other adults who’ve been telling them they’re brilliant are lying.

      In this environment kids can end up being encouraged – even coerced – into setting themselves impossible dreams and goals they can never reach because they’re not the right goals for who they are.

      To many kids and even adults, decisions are difficult. Their logic is mixed up with their emotions in equal measure, or their emotions are even more strongly a governor of their behaviour. People aren’t robots. We just don’t all have the same Operating System & one program doesn’t work for everybody.

      I was like that. Somehow I’ve made it through a life of self-doubt and self-examination & experimenting and slowly working my way through to realising all those things that Tipene talks about in respect of self-acceptance. My parents, who were great and who I loved dearly, just didn’t cover these things or know how to approach them with me. They didn’t recognise the need.

      It can be worse for boys because the male culture in NZ is still to be staunch, so fathers still tend to be like Nike’s slogan – “Just do it, don’t talk about it – don’t explain it”. And if you’re a boy to whom that sort of instant do it mentality doesn’t come naturally, one who has to think things through, one who’s so empathic you hate to hurt someone’s feelings when, frankly they bloody need to be hurt for your own good & self-worth, it’s a very easy step into feeling your are strange, unmanly, & ultimately a failure or worthless.

      Handled correctly, you’re not. You can shine. The best lessons I’ve learned from life so far are probably:
      1. The secret of happiness. If you want to be happy – be happy. It’s a decision YOU make.
      2. To get whatever you want, you must do whatever it takes. If you can’t – or won’t – do whatever it takes, you can’t get whatever you want. Accept that. And decide what else you now want.

      • Gezza

         /  November 19, 2017

        I’ll just add, those are just some random thoughts – there’s bound to be a lot of literature on where the little voice comes from and how much of it is personality and how much is put there by others’s teachings and expectation setting.

        All 3 boys in our family did particularly well at primary & intermediate school, among the top 3 in class usually. Our mum used to proudly tell everyone “my boys are perfectionists”. We thought that was a good thing. We were just naturally bright – all good at English, basic maths, art, and so on. I was shy though. As we moved up into the classes things got harder. We slipped back. For two of us that was nerve-wracking. We weren’t used to our work not being perfect.

        Nobody told us nothing’s ever perfect so instead of just accepting a lower mark than we were used to and not worrying about a subject we weren’t so hot at, when were doing fine in others, we agonised & stressed over it. Today if I encounter a kid who’s a perfectionist & getting all worked up over something I work on them and point out nobody’s good at everything and some things just aren’t worth worrying about.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  November 19, 2017

          Your last paragraph is the secret, Gezza. We are all different which is to be celebrated and enjoyed – not despaired about. As a parent our job is to help your kids find what they love doing and encourage them to explore and develop that while doing enough to get by in what the world expects them to do. And to teach them to develop and trust their gut instincts.

          • Gezza

             /  November 19, 2017

            Yeah that gut instinct some people learn early to run with. Others like me had it constantly overridden by teachers and critics so it took me a long time to recognise and run with it.

            The other thing I think it’s important to teach children is that sometimes the only way to find out which is the right decision – when you just can’t tell, and you’re agonising, stressing, not wanting to get it wrong – just make a decision. If it’s the wrong one, it doesn’t matter. That was the only way to find out. So now you have. So do the other thing.

            The world’s full of millionaires who’ve failed and just gone, “oh well – had to make a decision – bit of a bugger that was the wrong decision – but now I know what to do now” and gone on to incredible success – still making the occasional wrong decision, because often just making a call is the only way to find out, and wrong decisions are part of learning.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 19, 2017

              Absolutely, trying things is basic to living and learning. Take your opportunities. Don’t be afraid to risk a failure but be ready to deal with it as well. That trusting your gut thing comes along with not caring too much about what other people think. That’s something kids learn from parents too I think.

          • Blazer

             /  November 20, 2017

            what about the loony…left’?-‘ We are all different which is to be celebrated and enjoyed – not despaired about.’

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 20, 2017

              The loony Left create their own hellhole of despair and hatred, B. Best left there.

      • patupaiarehe

         /  November 19, 2017

        Even within the same family siblings can be markedly different in personalities. Good parents recognise that and regulate the way they raise their kids so that all are taught the same values and manners etc, but they tailor the way they teach their children self-acceptance.

        Too right G. As a father, I’m supposed to be the ‘disciplinarian’ of my little tribe, and as much as they should be treated equally, it would be unfair to do so. If I give my eldest a ‘dirty look’, he’ll look straight back at me & say “Is that supposed to be scary Dad?”. Whereas one of his younger brothers would be reduced to tears by that same look.
        His little brother isn’t a ‘sook’, and my eldest got more than a dirty look from Dad the last time he told him he was. He is sensitive, & a really caring individual, who enjoys watching the birds even more than his old man. He does have a slightly annoying habit though, of asking me what the birds are thinking. He did it today, and I told him “I don’t know son, why don’t you ask them?”. He gave me a funny look, and replied, “Because birds can’t talk Dad!”.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  November 19, 2017

          I GTG, but I’ll leave you with a recent conversation between those two, that had both Mum & I trying to hide our laughter;
          Older son: “You’re a dickhead, ………..”
          Younger son: Gives his brother a funny look, and replies “Whatever ……….. , I don’t have a hole in the top of my head!” 😀

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  November 20, 2017

            Kids create their own dynamic, patu. One of mine was a super organizer and the other was super-resistant to being organised.

  1. Mike King predicts a rise in suicide rate — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition