Matthew Wilson will be the first to admit he was in a dark place one year ago.

The Napier man, who likes to go by Matty, had just shifted his life back to Hawke's Bay after living in Australia for five months when his relationship broke up.

It was here that he found himself signing up to the Snap Fitness 8 Week Challenge that would see him lose 25kg and gain a healthier state of mind.

"I was in a pretty dark place at the start of the last challenge when I had returned from Australia in bad circumstances which I took really hard.

Advertisement

"Leading into that challenge the boys at Snap Fitness encouraged me to do the challenge and I said no but then they told me what it was about and I made the decision to partake. It really was life-changing."

Proceeds raised through last year's challenge went to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and this year Lifeline has been brought into the fold after calls to the national helpline trebled in the last year.

Hawke's Bay is one of many regions that has experienced rapid growth in call rates with numbers increasing by about a third in the space of one year; jumping from 5115 in 2016 to 6807 in 2017.

Matty, who is one of 2500 New Zealanders across 46 Snap Fitness gyms fundraising for Lifeline, said he hoped to do his part to break the silence on suicide.

"I'd really encourage people to challenge themselves and get outside their comfort zones when they are in dark places, and that includes finding someone to talk to.

"Really get outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to make new habits. You only find growth outside of your comfort zone so get out there."

Now into week two of his second 8 Week Challenge, for which entries are now closed, the 30-year-old early childhood educator said exercise helped him establish healthy routines.

"The sense of achievement from that was incredible. The challenge gave me a goal, it gave me pressure and it gave me focus.

"Rather than going into the gym kind of blase without a timeline to achieve everything the challenge gave me that and good habits as a result of that. Those were major benefits."

He said the moment Jono Pryor, co-host in the TV show Jono and Ben, paid a tearful tribute to a mate he lost to suicide during a live show in March last year highlighted the importance of speaking out about mental illness.

"It's the silent killer and one thing that resonated last year was Jono and Ben; they hit it home. We've got the worst statistics in the developed world.

"It's a hard thing to talk about and I guess I'm an example of that in trying to break the silence. I try to talk about my mental state all the time so people know it's okay to not feel happy some days and how to deal with that."

Lifeline and Snap Fitness aim to generate $250,000 in donations. Those wishing to show their support can donate by visiting www.8weekchallenge.co.nz.

WHERE TO GET HELP

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757​​