Failure isn’t Final: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Failure isn’t Final: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

What is depression and how does that affect people?

Often when people think about depression they just think about people feeling sad. And we have to remember it that sad is a normal human emotion. So if one has days that don’t feel as good as others, some people call those days Mondays, and I agree entirely. So what we have to distinguish is between normal human behaviour. So it’s normal to have days where you feel a bit flat, where everything’s not so good. And then there’s the illness, depression. And depression affects far more than the emotions. In fact a lot of people with depression, they don’t feel sadness, they feel numbness. They feel nothing at all. People with depression can have difficulty with concentrating…

I know that the topic of suicide is hard to face. You may not have been touched by it. You may feel inadequate if you had to try and help someone.

The truth is that NZ is being swamped by an epidemic of hopelessness and life issues that is leading youth and men in particular to take their lives as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The government does not have teams of psychologists roaming the streets looking for potentially suicidal people. The only people out there who can help desperate people are you and me – and others like us. We need to know what to look for and then what to do about it, which is often alerting experts. In this livestream event Michael Hempseed helps us have greater awareness of risk factors and symptoms.

Everyone needs this training!

You may have never had anyone you know be in a suicidal situation. But if you were even just once faced with this difficult situation – would you not want the confidence to know what steps to take to help?

Michael Hempseed (BA Psyc (Hon), Dip. Child Protection) is an experienced speaker who combines the latest research on mental health and suicide with practical tools, insights and pathways to support. He is an author and TEDx Speaker. His TedX presentation, ‘Overcoming Failure’, has had 25,000 views. His book, Being A True Hero: Understanding and Preventing Suicide in Your Community, is proving to be a worthwhile book for professionals and for those who have friends that may be suicidal.

See his website for more information.

Did you know failure can lead to shaken self confidence, depression and even suicide? Michael shares his personal story of overcoming failure on Britain’s Got Talent. Michael challenges us to re-examine the way we think about failure and whether it is possible to be successful after a dramatic failure.

Michael is a highly sought after professional speaker. He has delivered many inspiring seminars on such diverse topics as overcoming failure, mental illness and resilience. Michael has a real heart for helping everyone be at their best, especially those who are really struggling in life. Funny, full of enthusiasm and taking a genuine interest in people are all qualities that make Michael a captivating speaker. In addition to this he hosts a weekly radio show called Lighthouse of Hope, dedicated to helping those experiencing mental illness.

Visiting over 30 countries, including Ukraine, Cambodia, Morocco, China, India and Brazil has given Michael a wealth of real world experience. In particular his trip to India had a profound effect on him. Before leaving for India he was told that he would realise how lucky he was when he returned. Yet, he discovered a profound joy in India and when he returned he found that same joy was so often lacking in the Western World.

How to Deal With Failure | Michael Hempseed


Too often we exclusively associate suicide with depression, Being A True Hero looks at the many causes of suicide, from depression, bullying, brain injuries, psychosis, lack of sleep, childhood trauma, the cluster effect, loneliness, failure and many more. This book will help the reader to know more about suicide, whether they are a concerned parent, a friend, an employer, a counsellor, sports coach or a doctor.

The book is the result of over 10 years research. Michael Hempseed effortlessly merges scientific research with real world examples, he presents complex scientific information in a way so that anyone can understand it. Being a True Hero, is full of possibilities for recovery and the sheer number of options for help will astound many readers. More importantly he shows that no matter how bad the situation is there is always hope.

Sample chapters can be read and listened to here

Michael writes about mental illness and suicide with compassion and hope. His book is useful for people who have personal experience, the people who love them, and professionals who work in the field. It is serious, at times funny, and references up to date research.”

Kay O’Connor PhD, counsellor

I recently asked a friend I was concerned about if he was suicidal, it turned out he was – and needed help. Without the information in this book I never would have had the confidence to do that. The material in this book could save many lives.

Thomas Saywell, Youth Worker

Voluntary euthanasia bill to be debated. Again…

Voluntary euthanasia bill to be debated. Again…

On 8 June 2017, ACT MP David Seymour’s private members’ bill was pulled from the ballot, starting the latest round of the euthanasia debate. It seems like only yesterday, that a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia was withdrawn amid fears it would become a political football during an election year. Hang on, it’s an election year again!

What’s the difference between Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?

Euthanasia is an intervention undertaken with the intention of ending a life to relieve suffering, for example, a lethal injection administered by a doctor

Assisted suicide is any act that intentionally helps another person kill themselves, for example by providing them with the means to do so, most commonly by prescribing a lethal medication

When David Seymour’s bill was drawn, National and Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said he was firmly against it [the bill].

We have a horrific record on suicide and I think it sends a message that sometimes it is okay to top yourself. And I disagree with that.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said he was likely to vote against it, but may vote for it to go to a select committee so it could be properly debated. “Ultimately life is sacred and I think there are … ‘thin edge of the wedge’ arguments that concern me.”

What will that debate look like? The world has progressed since Maryan Street’s ‘End-of-Life Choice Bill’ was dropped. Views have changed and euthanasia laws in other countries have evolved over the past four years. Here’s a quick look at recent articles in the media if you want to consider the trajectory euthanasia laws have taken.

Did you read the first article in the list? Here are are some of the key points that need highlighting:

The Dutch are complacent about their famous law, he says. But there is no room for complacency. Under current legislation, euthanasia is only legal if a doctor believes that three conditions have been met: (1) the request must be voluntary and deliberate; (2) there must be unbearable suffering with no hope of improvement; and (3) there must no reasonable alternative to euthanasia. However, as euthanasia has sunk its roots deeper and deeper into Dutch medicine, the second and third conditions have shrivelled up. Patients define what is unbearable and they define what is a reasonable alternative. Unhappiness can be unbearable and a nursing home may not be a reasonable alternative. So, as one ethicist has observed, requirements (2) and (3) “add little to the requirement of a voluntary and thoughtful request”. Autonomy has trumped medicine. As a result, the number of euthanasia cases roughly tripled between 2007 and 2016, from 2000 to 6000.

One sign of the changing times is the rapid expansion of the services of the End of Life Clinic Foundation (Stichting Levenseindekliniek). This organisation offers euthanasia to patients whose own doctors have refused. They never offer to treat the underlying illness, whether it is physical or mental.

Last year, Dr Chabot points out, doctors from the End of Life Clinic each performed about one euthanasia every month. “What happens to doctors for whom a deadly injection becomes a monthly routine?” he asks. Now the End of Life Clinic is recruiting psychiatrists to service the mentally ill and demented. One obvious problem is that there is a shortage of good psychiatric help in the Netherland – which tends to take a long time have an effect, in any case – because of budget cuts.

Dr Chabot is deeply sceptical about euthanasia for the demented: “we are dealing with a morally problematic act: how do you kill someone who does not understand that he will be killed?”
How? It turns out that sometimes a relative or doctor secretly laces their food or drink with a sedative to make it easier to give them a lethal injection. In one notorious case last year, the sedative didn’t work and relatives pinned the terrified woman to the bed while the doctor gave the lethal injection. Dr Chabot was astonished to discover that “surreptitious administration of medication has previously occurred, but has never been mentioned in an annual report.”
Isn’t anyone paying attention to these developments, Dr Chabot asks.

While researching this topic, I realised that only western countries seem to face this issue. Why is that? 

What’s the real problem?

Euthanasia is presented as a solution for those who are suffering unbearable pain, by allowing them to exercise their right to take their own life and not be forced to live with their current or progressing condition.

Is depression a medical condition?

Here’s what the New Zealand Ministry of Health says,

Depression is a mental illness.. [it] can range from being a mild illness, to a severe one – where you can lose interest in life and the things you used to enjoy.

Some of the signs of depression:

  • feeling tired all the time
  • getting too much sleep or not enough
  • feeling worthless and helpless
  • thinking about death a lot
  • having no energy and feelings of low self-esteem
  • loss of appetite or overeating
  • sadness or emotional ‘numbness’
  • loss of pleasure in everyday activities
  • irritability or anxiety
  • poor concentration
  • feeling guilty, or crying for no apparent reason.

Do we condone suicide in New Zealand?

No. We actively campaign against it.

What’s Euthanasia?
Asking someone else [a physician] to intervene and take your life because you are unable to do so yourself.

“… a rose. By any other name, would smell as sweet.”
~ Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II

Are there other solutions to this problem?

We need to stop victimising people facing ‘unbearable pain’ or ‘extenuating circumstances’ and reach out in love.
Think differently. Look for alternative solutions and, if you can’t find one, make one!

Did you catch the story in Stuff that came out the day after the bill was pulled from the ballot?

Husband’s ingenious solution to his wife’s loss of mobility

John Darnley says the first time he rolled down the street with Avis on the front of his bike, she loved it. Photo: Kevin Stent / Fairfax Media

“There was a time when visitors would come for miles just to chat with Avis Darnley.

But as Parkinson’s disease has melted away the muscles in her jaw and throat, left her in a wheelchair and stolen her ability to speak, life has got smaller.

Most days she was left with just her front room, her television, and husband John.

Until John decided it was time they both got on with living.”

John and Avis Darnley’s story demonstrates that there can be creative solutions to improving one’s quality of life.

Here’s another article, this time from the USA, about a man who takes an unconventional approach by taking care for his elderly neighbour. Their story reminds me of ‘the good Samaritan’. California Man Cares for Ailing 89-Year-Old Neighbour and Best Friend in Her Final Days: ‘Kindness Heals.

Hospice New Zealand have a lot to say on this issue.

Hospice New Zealand does not support a change in the law to legalise assisted dying in any form. Nor do we consider that a change in the law would be in the best interests of the people we care for.

We believe Government should be investing in palliative care, increasing access to care and support not legalising euthanasia. Only when all New Zealanders have ready access to expert end-of-life care can a balanced debate begin. We support that all New Zealanders have the right to choose where they die.

The Nathaniel Centre played an instrumental role in the previous attempt to legalise Euthanasia in New Zealand.

It goes without saying that Family First will play a very public role in this debate, and that Maxim Institute to provide well-researched information for the country to consider.

I’ll close with a final thought by Maxim’s CEO Alen Penk,

David Seymour’s private member’s bill is based on an illusion. It assumes that it’s possible to create safeguards around assisted suicide practices that can prevent wrongful deaths. However, international evidence has shown that there is no reliably safe way to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Need more clarification around the euthanasia debate?

Check out this resource by John Kleinsman

Examples of actions which are not euthanasia are often used to argue for law change which is euthanasia.
This brief article aims to clarify some of the terms and issues in the hope that we can prevent this from happening.