I'll show you my vulnerability, and you show me yours.

That's what happened when Mike King gave a talk to 1800 Tauranga school kids this week.

For what might be the first time, young people were presented with not only a flawed adult but a famous adult who struggled with severe low self-esteem.

"I focus a lot on the inner-critic, the little voice in everyone's head that's constantly second guessing you. I focus on where not getting help for my insecurities let me which was alcoholism and drug addiction."

Advertisement

Speaking with Mr King from a local cafe after the talk he said at the start of the talk he asked students who else had that inner critic. Four or five hands went up.

"By the end, I asked again, and everyone looks around to a sea of hands, and everyone goes 'Oh, I'm normal'."

Mr King told the students about his dark days of depression, alcoholism and drug use: "Society thought I was running around drinking and using drugs to have fun. I was never. Alcoholics and drug addicts never do it for fun, they do it to run from hell, and my hell was that constant inner critic."

The inner critic isolated you, eventually disconnecting you from everybody, he said.

"I normalise the inner critic. Why is that important? I would lay money on the fact that suicide ideation among young people has more to do with disconnection than it does with depression."

Once he opened up to the students, they in return felt it was OK to open up and talk and ask questions without fear of judgment.

"Society has to change their attitude towards vulnerable people. Make themselves available for people to come and talk," Mr King said.

"If someone comes to you to talk, don't feel like you have to know all the answers.

"Don't try to fix them or take on all their problems. If you don't know what to say the best thing you can say is 'I care about you and if you want to go and see someone I will go with you'."

The talks Mr King gives were free for schools, and he was not afraid to hand his personal cellphone number out to students, offering help at any time.

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 (1pm to 11pm). 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.

Key to Life
http://www.keytolife.org.nz/