Robert Hewitt, the former Navy diver who astonished experts by surviving 75 hours lost at sea, has revealed how close he came to killing himself in a moment of deep despair.
In an about-to-be-released book on his amazing tale of survival, Mr Hewitt talks about how he pulled himself back from the brink of suicide after 36 hours of floating lost in the ocean off the west coast north of Wellington.
Since he was pulled from the water off Porirua in February last year, the brother of former All Black Norm Hewitt has been in high demand around the world among experts and safety organisations, keen to learn what kept him alive when most had given him up for dead.
He was finally found by rescuers after 75 hours, close to the spot where he had disappeared.
In the book, Treading Water - the Rob Hewitt Survival Story, he reveals that after 36 hours in the water, he seriously considered committing suicide.
"I was contemplating suicide, either drinking water or holding my breath."
He said he had rolled over and given up but was pulled back to reality by his family.
"Once I had rolled over and given up and felt the old heartbeat slowing down and the throbbing of the head, it was family. What if I had died and I am going up to heaven and I see a boat 500m or two minutes away? Couldn't I have held on for two minutes?
"If I see it, I can't get back down and I would be sad if I think 'couldn't I have held on for another two minutes?' That kept me going after that 36-hour mark."
Mr Hewitt said he had travelled the world to talk about his amazing story of survival, including to South Africa, Australia and Europe.
He had also done a deal for a documentary shown in New Zealand this year to play on the National Geographic channel, which would be seen by millions around the world.
He had also had talks with the Discovery Channel which had a new series, called I Shouldn't be Alive, which began airing in New Zealand recently.
Mr Hewitt said he thought of himself as a "good old Kiwi boy" who had been propelled on to the international stage.
He said he survived because he had a strong faith in tikanga Maori, a loving family and was a Navy diver.
The "can-do New Zealand attitude" also helped.
He said 21 months after his survival experience, he was still an immensely changed man. He and his partner Rangi had an 8-month old daughter, Ohomairangi, whose name meant "the awakening" and she was named as a result of his survival.
He said it had been a deeply spiritual experience, not just in religion but in a strong life balance.
"Because we are Maori, because we are New Zealanders, it is having that balance of belief, who we are as a people."
He is to tour the country promoting his book and is also working as a safety ambassador for Water Safety New Zealand and Maritime New Zealand.