Hastings mayoral candidate Adrienne Pierce has come under fire for joking about suicide publicly on Facebook.
Ms Pierce said last night she did not want to talk about her post as she had deleted it and apologised to a person who was offended by it.
"I have spoken to the person who was a friend of a friend and I deleted it straight away, so that is it really."
In response to comments about one of her opponents, Guy Wellwood, possibly being elected as mayor on October 8, Ms Pierce posted on her open Facebook page, "hide the sharp instruments and rope come October 9th" and "yes she screamed from the rooftop as she jumped on October 9th".
A Havelock North resident whose family had been affected by mental illness saw the comments made by Ms Pierce and shared the post.
She said: "I would have thought someone running as a mayoral candidate would be more sensitive to mental health issues and not be joking on their personal Facebook page about self harming and suicide."
The woman said she was so appalled that a public figure would post such things on a public forum and said she was not the type of person to be a leader for the district.
"People in influential places should be trying to stop the stigma."
When contacted last night Mr Wellwood said he was shocked by Ms Pierce's comments but did not want to start some sort of Facebook war.
Mr Wellwood had said, on his Facebook page, that Ms Pierce's best chance of being elected was as a councillor.
"I just stated the obvious, she is not influential and now she wants to throw her weight around by being mayor."
He felt the posts she made were highly inappropriate and he had meetings with her twice yesterday but did not bring it up.
"I wonder if she realised how the social media system worked. It is something you talk about over coffee with friends. I would not think it was something someone standing for an important public office role would want everyone to see."
Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Shaun Robinson, said comments like these from someone in a public leadership role were very disappointing.
"Teaching people to take threats of suicide seriously is one of our most fundamental suicide prevention messages. Making these threats in jest reinforces myths that suicidal people are just looking for attention."
He said there were already enough barriers that prevented vulnerable people from asking for help.
"When public figures make light of their real pain and suffering it can become very difficult for some people to speak up about their experiences and access the support they need."
He was also concerned by the way she mentioned particular methods as it could influence vulnerable people to choose that method to take their own life.
"People can go from having a passive idea that they want to die to an active plan."
The Havelock North resident said Ms Pierce had since recognised her error and apologised to her by commenting on her post, "thanks for the reminder, deleted now."
Mr Robinson said this kind of 'joke' was thoughtless and irresponsible.
Current Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule was unable to be contacted for comment last night.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
In an emergency, always call 111. Lifeline - 0800 543 354 Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757 Samaritans - 0800 726 666 Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. Text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com. 0800 WHATSUP (0800 9428 787), open 1pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz. Healthline - 0800 611 116. www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention.
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