Coming back from the brink

A suicidal man sought help from a free counselling service provided in Waikato during lockdown that helped him. Photo: Stuff.


Isolated, lacking support and not able to see his children Ryan* didn't know where to turn.

Suicidal thoughts had started to creep in with isolation compounding the issue.

Family members encouraged him to reach out for help and gave him the number of a free counselling service provided by Male Support Services Waikato during lockdown.

When he first spoke to counsellor Ngarongo Ormsby and was asked how he felt - one being fine and 10 being he wanted to jump off the Sky Tower without safety on, he said 10.

Now, weeks on, Ryan is sitting at a two.

Ngarongo is one of many counsellors working with the service to provide free counselling during these unprecedented times for not only men, but women and children, too.

A wide variety of people used the service, from single mothers to elderly parents and isolated men, Ngarongo says.

Even though everyone was different, there were still common themes.

“What is common is stress, anxiety and the anxiety is the fear of the unknown.”

People losing their jobs, income restrictions and rent woes also contributed.

“Those things we take for grated are amplified and cause arguments and relationship difficulties.”

No issue was too unusual either, with one caller seeking help as she was struggling with a haunted house.

Ngarongo says he helped the Māori woman cleanse her house over the phone and kept in contact to make sure she was okay.

Because it's a locally funded service they could provide more than just phone support, with families benefiting from food vouchers, phone credit to help.

The service is being delivered by Male Support Services Waikato and manager Mike Holloway said they would be providing it for as long as it was needed.

It was not just offered to Waikato residents, but also Bay of Plenty and King Country residents.

They had been funded by different community groups, including Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate, the Gallagher Group and Hamilton City Council.

Counsellors were also working at a reduced rate..

Seeing the service in action was great, Male Support Services Waikato chairman Matt Watson says.

They were planning to increase their footprint to the Bay of Plenty and King Country this year anyway, so Matt says this was a good time to start.

To access the service, ring 0800 677 289 and select option 0.

You will need to give your name and contact number — either to the person who answers or in a message — and it will be allocated to a counsellor to make contact.

The service aims to contact everyone within 24 hours.

*Not his real name


1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7. – or email or free text 5626

Anxiety New Zealand - 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Supporting Families in Mental Illness - 0800 732 825

Stuff/Kirsty Lawrence

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