Mike King blames older generation for youth suicide spike

  • 03/05/2017

Comedian and activist Mike King has revealed what he thinks is behind the high rates of teenage suicides in New Zealand.

Last year, an OECD report found New Zealand had the highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said around 500 Kiwis take their own lives every year, and said mental health was a key focus for the Government.

On Wednesday, Mr King told More FM's Si and Gary the older generation is to blame for the high teen suicide rate.

"There's two things our kids we want - they want to be loved... but they also want to be heard. They want their opinions to be validated by the significant adults in their lives," he said.

He said the current generation is one of the first dealing with both parents working, and people aren't spending enough time sitting down and listening to their children.

"We're constantly cutting them off, we're constantly criticising them for their actions, we're constantly blaming their generation's opinions, and our kids have stopped talking to us," he said.

"I don't think this young generation is the problem, honestly. After talking to 150,000 kids and getting their feedback, I believe it's our generation who are the problem and our generation need to look in the mirror and go, 'Are we spending enough time with our kids, listening to them and validating the stuff they are talking about'."

Teen suicide has been in the spotlight recently after the release of Netflix show 13 Reasons Why.

Its graphic and raw depiction of depression, sexual assault and suicide has drawn criticism from health officials for not following suicide guidelines.

New Zealand's classification office ended up creating an entirely new rating for the show after the backlash, RP18, which means teens can watch the show, provided they have parental guidance.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865.