For former Kiwi comedian Mike King, hope is a topic close to his heart.
The mental health advocate will be in Blenheim on Marlborough on September 6, 7 and 8.
He is set to hold a series of five talks, titled “Lara’s Message” in memory of Blenheim girl Lara Glover, 16, who died in a car accident in February.
Organised by Lara’s mother, Jayne, it is hoped the talks will help those struggling with loss.
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King stepped down from his post on New Zealand’s suicide-prevention panel in May disillusioned with the Government’s strategy to help reduce suicide over the next 10 years.
But he has continued to speak publicly about mental health issues as a founding member of the Key to Life Charitable Trust.
The community-based peer support group aims to reverse the population trends of depression and suicide by effecting a positive social change. The ultimate aim is to stop all suicides.
Mike himself has battled depression in the past and says he is determined to help stop the illness claiming more lives.
On the trust’s website, Mike says that up to 40 per cent of children will have experienced suicidal thoughts before leaving school but 80 per cent never ask for help.
“Overwhelmingly it is fear of judgement, gossip and shame. Fear of what others will think, say or do if they disclose they are struggling. Interestingly most of these kids said that they were more likely to talk to someone if they knew that that person was safe,” he says.
The event will tour the major colleges of the region as well as alternative education facilities. A public session will be held at the Clubs of Marlborough on Friday, September 8 from 1.30pm.
All events are free with any donations going to King’s foundation Key to Life.