Warning: This article discusses suicide.
Mike King says he's surprised New Zealand's latest suicide figures aren't higher.
The mental health advocate told The AM Show something needs to change in the wake of statistics showing 685 people died by suicide in the year to June 30, the highest number in five years.
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"If you are being funded by the Government to be the gatekeepers of suicide prevention and you're shocked by those figures, time to resign."
King said there needs to be a massive culture change around asking for help.
"If you haven't had a kid come up to you in your life and say 'hey I'm having these thoughts, I want to take my own life can I talk to you about it', most New Zealanders have never had that conversation.
"My question is why? What is it about you that is preventing you and your mates from opening up and asking for help.
"Final point: If you haven't had a mate come up to you in the last two years and talk about their feelings, talk about their struggles, talk about their problems then guess what pal, you're the problem."
His comments echoed Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson, who told The AM Show people need to check in on their mates if they feel concerned.
"Us Kiwis, we aren't always that good at dealing with the bad stuff, just saying 'hey I can see you're not doing well, you're looking really crap'.
"You look out for changes, you know if someone's starting to drink a lot more or if their mood changes a lot."
He said he's in favour of initiatives that empower people to know what to do if they have a friend who needs help.
"If we had more of that in the community, more of the Lifekeepers programme that trains people how to support people they're concerned about.
"More resources for ordinary, everyday New Zealanders so that they feel more confident to ask someone if they're feeling suicidal and to be there if the person says 'hey yeah I'm actually really struggling'."
Where to find help and support:
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO