Warning: This article is about youth suicide and may be distressing for some readers.

ZM drive host Jason Hawkins has opened up about his battle with depression and the destructive lifestyle that almost cost him his marriage.

Aussie-born Hawkins told listeners last night that he suffered from depression but it looked to others like he was having a great time.

"I look back now just before I left Brisbane and I was in a s*** place. I was in depression and I didn't know it at the time."


Hawkins, who hosts ZM's drive show with PJ, said he wasn't enjoying his job in Australia, was struggling with parenthood and his relationship was suffering.

In a candid admission he said every weekend he would abandon his partner and child and party hard to deal with the misery that enveloped him.

"It would get to every Friday - and I'm not proud of this - but I would go out, leave Lou with Felix and go out and write myself off."


The full Break The Silence series can be read here.

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Hawkins said it became a vicious cycle, with weekdays filled with tears lifted only by the prospect of the weekend bender.

However, it masked an underlying depression.

"I didn't know how sad I was," said Hawkins.

It took a new job in New Zealand for a fresh start and new outlook on life.

"I knew if we didn't move and we kept going Lou would have left me."

Hawkins was speaking out ahead of a two-hour special edition of ZM's Sealed Section to support the Break The Silence campaign.

The Herald and ZM - who are both owned by NZME - are collaborating on the series, which is supported by other radio stations in the company's stable.

New Zealand has the second worst suicide rate among those aged 25 and under in the developed world. The rate among teens, officially those aged 15-19, is the worst. The rates have remained largely unchanged for two decades.

Break The Silence aims to get people talking about the issue, what we're doing to fix it and whether it's enough. It also aims to encourage people suffering from mental health problems to open up, and to know there's hope.

Hawkins backed the series, saying it was time to break the taboo over talking about suicide and depression. Refusing to discuss it would not make it go away.

"It's the complete opposite," said Hawkins. "You don't have to be all the way down the path to go, 'oh my God, I'm almost at the end'. It's like, at the start, if you start to feel depressed chat with a mate."

• Support Youthline by donating via youthline.co.nz/breakthesilence.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.