Biker passionate about stopping teen suicide
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Hone Mihaka has known a dozen friends and relatives who have taken their own lives, and he was almost one of them.
The Bay of Islands man is passionate about stopping suicide, with a special focus on teenagers. Mihaka's 14-year-old niece took her own life last week.
"I just thought ‘not again. Another one'.
"We've got a Kiwi cultural issue. We've got a lot of experts out there. But we're still not finding solutions. The numbers aren't going down, they're climbing up."
Unicef released a report yesterday showing New Zealand is near the bottom when it comes to child well-being. A core reason for this is our adolescent suicide rates - they're the highest in the world.
Mihaka described his own darkest moment.
He tried to kill himself 25 years ago after he had abused his then-partner. Now he advocates passionately to stop domestic violence. He said he tried to end his life as his partner lay bleeding in the next room.
But his method didn't work.
"Thank God or I wouldn't have a son and have become a role model among the grassroots people of my tribe."
Mihaka believed there was a web of interconnected reasons that could lead someone to suicide. He cited poverty, isolation, loneliness, mental health, abuse, financial and relationship issues as possibilities.
He said the only solution was to talk about it. Kiwis, and men in particular, were too scared and ashamed to reveal their feelings and ask for help.
"A male commits suicide every day in New Zealand. And no one's talking about it. No one's saying enough about it.
"Every New Zealander in this country has been touched by the hand of suicide. We've all been impacted.
"We owe it to 579 New Zealanders who died last year from suicide to talk about it."
Mihaka is the chairman of Northland Rats - Riders Against Teenage Suicide.
The group was set up after a spate of youth suicides in Northland. They raise awareness by riding their motorcycles and encouraging others to talk about suicide.
"Once they get to that cliff face called suicide and they jump off. There's no coming back from that."
Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 ? If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.