Mike King to push on with Gumboot Friday during coronavirus lockdown

Warning: This article discusses suicide. 

Mental health advocate Mike King has announced a three-hour Facebook live event he hopes will help New Zealanders coping with anxiety around the COVID-19 crisis.

The live event has been organised to commemorate Gumboot Friday, an initiative King launched to support those who have depression.

King and others embarked on a tour of New Zealand on tractors this month to raise awareness for the Gumboot Friday fundraiser, but the tour was cancelled due to restrictions on public events.

"Postponing public events is the right thing to do," said King.

"However more than ever, Kiwis need help - especially with so much uncertainty and anxiety. We remain committed to Gumboot Friday and will do everything we can to get Kiwis free counselling."

King will now appear in a Facebook Live event from 9am to 12pm on Gumboot Friday (April 3).

Singer-songwriter Mitch James will join the event from his Sydney home "to answer questions, have a laugh, and sing a few songs," said King.

Mike King said it was important for New Zealanders to look after themselves, their nearest and dearest and their friends during the coronavirus crisis.
Mike King said it was important for New Zealanders to look after themselves, their nearest and dearest and their friends during the coronavirus crisis. Photo credit: Supplied

Last year Gumboot Friday raised $1.3 million to provide more than 10,500 counselling sessions for 2500 young New Zealanders. 

King said he had switched his focus from donations to conversations to continue to fix the problem at a community level, but counselling was still key. 

He called on New Zealanders to ask those closest how they are doing and to let them know they are not alone.

The key thing for New Zealanders to do now is to look after themselves, their nearest and dearest and their friends," he said.

"Gumboot Friday will still happen, and I want everyone to use the day to check-in with their whanau to see if they're ok."

New Zealand's latest suicide statistics released by the Chief Coroner in August last year showed another annual increase.

In the year to June 30, 685 people took their own lives - 17 more than the previous year. 

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