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Mike King's frustration no surprise to PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

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Prime Minister Bill English says he isn't surprised Mike King found it difficult working with the Ministry of Health.

The comedian has resigned from the New Zealand Suicide External Prevention Advisory Panel, saying the government's recently released draft plan is "deeply flawed".

King wrote to the Ministry of Health on Monday, saying when he was first invited to join it he was optimistic but his concerns had only increased since.

"At the end of the day, we couldn't even get you to agree to a target of a 20 percent reduction in suicide over the next 10 years," he said.

"It is a strategy that is so broad in its effort to please everyone it will eventually collapse under the weight of public expectation."

Mike King. © Facebook Mike King. King said all he saw in the Draft Suicide Prevention Plan - published last month - was "more of the same".

Mr English said King had been a very committed anti-suicide campaigner.

"He has a particular style in which he does that, and I'm not surprised at all that he finds the ministry's way of going about things not necessarily to his liking," he told reporters.

"It would be better if he stayed - I know the direct and committed way in which he works."

King's resignation was effective immediately.

"It would be funny if people weren't dying," he said.

King has been a member of the panel since December 2015. Its role is to prepare the NZ Suicide Prevention Strategy for the next 10 years.

Labour's deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern, said King had been an outstanding advocate and his resignation should be "a major red flag".

"Mental health is reaching crisis point in New Zealand," she said.

The Ministry of Health has been asked for comment.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm) - 0800 942 8787

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4pm to 6pm weekdays) 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline)

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