Sharyn Casey tears up during emotional suicide statistics conversation with Jacinda Ardern

Edge radio host Sharyn Casey fought back tears as she discussed New Zealand's suicide rate with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern asked to arrange an interview on The Edge Afternoons show after statistics were released showing an all-time high for Kiwi suicides.

"One of the reasons I wanted to have the conversation is because where we've seen the highest numbers is our 20-24-year-old men, in particular, and our 40 plus men," the Prime Minister said.

Casey and her co-hosts Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce touched on the issues of stigma around mental health and speaking out about depression with Ardern.

"Sometimes, sadly, mental illness is a deadly disease that we need to take more seriously," Casey said. 

"You know this idea of 'toughing it out' it's just totally the wrong approach. We need to change the way we approach our mental health in NZ," Ardern agreed.

Ardern referred to the provisional figures that show 668 Kiwis died by suspected suicide between July 2017 - June 2018, adding:

"Everyone in NZ will know someone who has had this situation, and I think that's why it's such a heightened issue for us - because immediately you hear those numbers and you have a story."

"It's our job in government to make sure those services are there and we do need to up our game there."

Casey fought back tears as she opened up about her own mental health, praising the Prime Minister for her position on the topic.

"I find these stats really upsetting, because I've had anxiety and depression since I was 11," she said.

"It's really amazing that you're having these conversations, because knowledge is power." 

"The more that we are open to talk about it, and for our Prime Minister to set that example is amazing."

Arden in turn thanked the Edge hosts for using their platform to bring awareness to the issue.

Last year, Pryor addressed viewers of his TV show Jono and Ben in a tearful tribute to a friend who committed suicide.

""If you are suffering a mental illness, no one thinks less of you", he said.

"Just talk about it."

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