Mates need to look out for their depressed friends - Mike King

Warning: This article discusses suicide.

People need to ensure their friends talk to them about their mental health, campaigner Mike King says.

King was speaking to The AM Show after Shortland Street actor Pua Magasiva died suddenly in Wellington at the weekend.

There are no suspicious circumstances around Magasiva's death.

King told The AM Show the messaging around suicide needs to move away from forcing people to reach out when they're at their lowest.

"I believe we have to change our message away from that crisis focussed message, why are we putting so much pressure on men in crisis expecting them to reach out?" he said.

"'If you're in trouble call this number, if you're in trouble call a mate,' every time I've been in crisis in my life, the last thing I've wanted to do is expose myself to anybody else."

He said over the past few weeks he's been feeling low, but he's lucky to have friends that he can talk to about it.

"I've got some really good mates who contacted me... they all reach out because they know me. They've made themselves available."

But not everyone has that support network available.

"I feel for all of those people out there who don't have those networks, so let's form those networks, let's reach out."

His comments echo those of Mel Grant, special projects manager for mental health and addiction at Homecare Medical, who told RadioLive in August 2018 people need to check in on their mates.

"I would really encourage you if you have a friend that is... saying things like 'I just don't know what to do anymore, I've had enough' is actually just come out and ask them 'are you thinking of hurting yourself?'" she said.

"That is the best way because it opens up the conversation. If they're not feeling like hurting themselves [then] you asking them that is not going to make them feel like that."

King said people aren't going to find out if their friend is suicidal easily, and they need to make sure they're able to have that conversation.

"The only way you're ever going to find out if someone is suicidal is if they tell you, and we're not doing enough to facilitate that conversation.

"Those of us who are in a good place right now, we are not doing enough to make it okay for our mates to talk."

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