Winston Churchill called it his "black dog". That was 90 years or so ago.

Somehow, a man renowned as one of the great world leaders acknowledged depression publicly, and survived.

And yet 90 or so years later, the black dog still carries a stigma that stops it being talked about publicly.

Although that's not quite right. We do talk about it openly, when it's too late.
This week, a very public face passed away.


Journalist and television presenter Greg Boyed was, by all accounts I have read, a much-loved individual.

Loved by colleagues. Adored by his family.

He died while on a family holiday with his wife and young son. It was reported that he had been battling depression.

The inference is clear.

His death speaks volumes about depression, a disease that can shroud an individual in a blackness so dark, not even the sparkling star of a young child can shine its way through.

Comedian Mike King talks publicly about anxiety and depression and suicide. Yet he is no sad clown. He is using his profile to deliver a simple message.

Comedian and mental health campaigner, Mike King.
Comedian and mental health campaigner, Mike King.

Messages, actually. He made two good points this week - there aren't always signs, so there may not be a cue or prompt that means you will ask after someone's mental health.

And there remains a general, societal attitude to depression that deems it a weakness, that stigmatises the illness so that people who are suffering, mask their "symptoms".


There is nothing weak about a person with depression, they possess a resilience which, guided in the right direction, can free them.

This week, we have also the release of Hawke's Bay's suicide data which tells us we lost 29 people in a year. That's the sort of number we normally associate with the road toll.

Consider for a minute, the public manner in which road toll safety messages are conveyed, versus the way we promote safe discussion about suicide and depression.


And it's another irony that the darkness of Greg Boyed's death has shone the spotlight on depression, all we need to do now is start talking about it when our loved ones are alive.