Actor turns spotlight on act of 'chaos'

By Alexandra Newlove -
1 comment
Mokaraka opens one-man play to tell his story of depression-driven police standoff.
Rob Mokaraka is thankful to be alive but says depression is ongoing. Picture / Dean Purcell
Rob Mokaraka is thankful to be alive but says depression is ongoing. Picture / Dean Purcell

It's been nearly seven years since Rob Mokaraka tried to orchestrate his own violent death, calling 111 then threatening the attending police officers with a meat cleaver and claiming he had a gun.

His attempt to get himself killed was almost successful. The police shot him in the stomach and he spent 7 weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries - a short time compared to the seven years it's taken the award-winning actor and writer to get to the point of performing his one-man black comedy Shot Bro - Confessions of a Depressed Bullet.

Ahead of tonight's Whangarei opening, Mokaraka reflected on his depression in July 2009 as state of mental "chaos".

"Everyone's depression is a bit different," he said. "Mine was based around shame, guilt and failure ... In that state of chaos, I thought I deserved a violent end."

Mokaraka pleaded guilty in July 2010 to charges of assault with a weapon and threatening to kill. But having the hospital psychologist diagnose him with depression in the weeks following the incident was a turning point.

"It made me realise I'm not so crazy and there are reasons why I was like that," he said. "I ended up just thankful to be alive and if I had to do 400 hours community work - which I did - that's better than being dead."

The actor said premiering Shot Bro in his hometown felt right, not least because Northland's suicide statistics are among the worst in the country.

"My outlook is that it [depression] is ongoing. You've got to keep an eye on it and know what the triggers are."

His plan is to tour Shot Bro around the country. Mokaraka said he hopes to eventually meet with the officer who shot him, a door which is "solidly closed" at the moment.

"I would apologise and say that wasn't me, that was a version of me ... I hold no animosity because I created that event. I hope he's all right."

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.

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7).

• What's Up: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm).

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7).

• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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