Mike King 'grateful' after surviving motorway bike accident

The AM Show 12/12/2019

Mental health campaigner Mike King says if he came off his bike six months ago, he would have spent days in bed beating himself up.

Instead, just two days after hitting the motorway asphalt, the former comedian was on The AM Show saying he has a lot to be grateful for in life.

"I've got a few bumps and bruises, but grateful, very grateful," he told host Duncan Garner.

"I was on the motorway, a car pulled in front of the car in front of me. You either drop it or hit the car, so I just dropped the bike and went for a bit of a scrape and a roll. It was interesting. For this time of the year, it's a great reminder there's a lot to be grateful for.

"Where I was at the time, I'm not normally. Usually I'm lane-splitting, but I just decided to sit in behind a car for the first time ever. I could see it all happening in slow motion. But again, grateful."

So what's changed for King?

"I think the diet has a lot to do with that," he said, having gone from 108kg to 93kg in just four months.

King has long battled depression, but says cutting out bread, sugar and pasta has done wonders for his state of mind.

"I have never been this good mentally in my entire life, honestly. I put it down to my diet, absolutely 100 percent. I've still got to take my antidepressants - I'm too scared to come off them."

Mike King. Photo credit: The AM Show

Studies have linked healthy diets with improved mood, but King says there's more to it than that.

"I've been off social media for four months - when you're out of that bubble and talking to real people and getting hugged by people going 'keep going, keep going'. People I would normally have judged - I would have sat there and gone 'look at those horrible people' and then they come over and give you a big hug' and you're like, oh. Everything is so much better."

Studies have also found quitting social media can have mental health benefits, particularly Facebook. 

"Normally I want to kill at least two people every day. Now it's one a month," King joked.

New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, particularly for youth. In February King, 57, was named New Zealander of the Year for his devotion to bringing rates down, including ditching his successful comedy career. 

But it's only gone up, rising from 10.81 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 13.93 this year. The Government has poured millions more in funding to mental health services, and recently opened its first Suicide Prevention Office.

King's own efforts have struggled this year, with the Ministry of Health denying his Gumboot Friday charity more funding after it ran out of money due to high demand for its services. At next year's event, scheduled for April 3, he hopes to raise more than $5 million to fund more counselling services.

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The AM Show / Newshub reporter Dan Satherley