A "disconnect" from their fathers is at the heart of many males who feel suicidal, says comedian and suicide campaigner Mike King.
King is touring the country urging people to discuss their issues before it gets to the stage they consider taking their lives.
King spoke to a packed Whangarei Library yesterday on his Community Korero tour.
More than 60 people attended the talk, after one the previous night packed out The Hut at the Pulse in Raumanga and another last night in Whangarei.
King has had his own publicised battles with addiction and mental health issues that saw him attempt to take his own life.
He said getting people to talk about their stories, problems and feelings was a start to arresting Northland's - and the country's - appalling suicide rates.
"The problem at the heart of most men's problems are a disconnect from our fathers - I always wanted my dad to be proud of me," he said.
But it wasn't until he was in his 40s that he felt that connection with his father, saying that was partly because men are not good at talking about issues as they arise.
"I love my dad and he loves me, but he could only teach me what he had been taught. I just wanted to be accepted and if I couldn't get the love of dad, I'd get it from everybody else," King said.
Terry Watts, from social agency Te Ora Hou which works with teenage fathers, asked what could be done to help those young dads not repeat the same mistakes, and be better parents.
"Look for the positives. It's hard work being a father," King said. "It's easy to find 10 things wrong with somebody and we've got to start looking for the two or three things that are right. We need to move forward positively.
"I grew up thinking I wasn't worthy. What I've realised after 50 years is that the only person I have to please is myself. It's only after 51 years that I'm starting liking myself."
In response to a question on his views on psychotropic medication used to treat mental health disorders, King said they worked for him but didn't always work.
"I agree that doctors are throwing [psychotropic medication] around like lollies and I agree that they have also saved a lot of lives," he said.
However, he wanted doctors to give patients receiving the drugs more information about possible side effects as he believed some people committed suicide as a result of side effects.
"Drugs kill the symptoms, they don't kill the disease."
The talk was filled with typical King humour but the important message was that people needed to talk about their problems, not only listen to others' problems.
Where to get help
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
• The Word
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (8am to midnight)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
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