A young Auckland father whose sudden death was highlighted in an emotional TV tribute by Jono Pryor last night was an "incredibly charismatic, funny" man universally loved by his friends and family.

Tim Hutchens, 36, took his own life last Friday after a long battle with mental illness.

While his family knew about his inner struggles, and that he was seeking help, Hutchens kept his battles from almost all of his mates.

Close friend Pryor was stunned at Hutchens' shock death, and paid a heartfelt tribute to him on last night's Jono and Ben show.


"A few days ago, a very, very close friend of mine decided to take his own life," he said through tears.

"I just wanna say that what I've learned this week, if you are suffering a mental illness, no one thinks less of you for talking, for sharing your thoughts.

"No one thinks less of you for taking medicine and no one thinks less of you for dealing with a mental illness."

The emotional message has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the New Zealand public.

People were quick to send their support via social media sites Twitter and Facebook, which was noted and appreciated by the duo.

The Mental Health Foundation today welcomed Pryor's public sharing.

"Jono was really very authentic and showed the kind of compassion and mateship that is what we need as part of addressing the stigma around mental health and actually being able to support people to get through tough times and go on to happy and fulfilling lives. Good on, Jono," Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said.

Gareth Hughes, close friend of both Pryor and Hutchens, said he'd spoken to Pryor this morning. They were both amazed by the public's reaction.

"Jono and I spoke at length about the best way to raise the issue and make the biggest impact possible by turning a horrendous negative into a positive," said Hughes.

"The fact it's on the front page, it's all over mainstream media, it's phenomenal. What he said, and how real it was, it really struck a chord with people."

He added: "If it stops one person from doing the unthinkable, then it's worth doing."

Hutchens was farewelled at St Matthew's Church in Auckland city yesterday.

More than 600 mourners paid their respects to the plumber, former soccer star, and father of 3-year-old Tilly.

Tim's brother Jamie Hutchens was weary of cliche, but said he was a "very cool guy, funny man" who was "truly loved by all".

"Every time someone dies, they say he was a great guy or woman, but yesterday with the number of people there and the tributes that were given, Tim was actually was of those true good guys. He was incredibly charismatic, people just loved him," Jamie, 39, said.

After leaving St Kentigern College at 15, Hutchens learned the plumbing trade.

He called himself ''Timmy T'', short for ''Timmy Terrific'', Jamie said. He even called his business, TT Plumbing Services.

Hutchens was a talented soccer player but by his early 20s, gave away top-level football for more social grades and Futsal.

Soccer friends yesterday remembered the joker and team prankster.

But behind the affable exterior, Hutchens battled mental illness.

Jono and Ben made an emotional plea at the close of their TV show. Photo / via MediaWorks
Jono and Ben made an emotional plea at the close of their TV show. Photo / via MediaWorks

His family, parents Mike and Sandra, and long-term companion, best friend and mother to his young daughter, Bex Roberts, knew of his struggles, although they didn't know exactly what it was.

"We knew intimately the battles he was having with himself," Jamie said.

"We were getting him help. He was seeing The Taylor Centre in Auckland for probably a year, and he told us it was helping.

"He came over for dinner the night before, and he just seemed fine. He was so happy, but there was obviously a lot going on inside his head that we didn't know about."

While his family knew, Hutchens never wanted his friends to be told of his mental health issues. Only a very limited few knew.

He had sworn his brother to secrecy.

"It came as such a shock to all his friends who didn't really know," Jamie Hutchens said.

"I talked to him many times about the need to let his friends know but he was so dead set against it. He didn't want anyone to know there was anything wrong with him. And I didn't want to lose the friendship with my brother and so I respected his wishes."

The Mental Health Foundation said it was important for people to know that thousands of Kiwis go through dark times every year and come out the other side.

Robinson has survived his own personal suicide attempt.

But it's always been the support of friends that has seen him through.

"I got clinical professional help as well, but it was friends who cared about me and were prepared to reach out and were there when I was in distress that made the real difference. That's why I am alive today."

Robinson said "an enormous amount more needs to be done" around mental health in New Zealand.

While people need to have the confidence to reach out to friends, family and health professionals, people also need to have the confidence when someone does approach them for help.

"For some people it can be quite frightening when some people approaches them. But people should take a deep breath and reach out again, because there will be people in your network who will listen and offer support."

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)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)

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

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

Samaritans 0800 726 666

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