Regional | Mental Health

“Crying is better than dying” - Gym hosts play tackling suicide

Ludus Magnus is a gym where people go to work out - not to watch theatre. But actor Rob Mokaraka says the fitness centre was the perfect venue to perform his play, which tackles our country’s suicide epidemic.

The Ngāpuhi performer wrote the deeply personal Shot Bro: Confessions of a Depressed Bullet based on his own struggle with depression and his public suicide attempt ten years ago in Auckland.

“I provoked the police to shoot me on the streets of Point Chevalier. After being shot in the chest at close range, I created an educational and healing tool which can enlighten families about speaking out about mental health.”

For three years, Mokaraka has toured his play around New Zealand and has performed it more than 200 times at theatres, prisons, schools and marae. He says being at Ludus Magnus shows that his play is accessible.

“I tell every community that crying is better than dying.”

Ludus Magnus owner and fellow actor Joe Naufahu says he reached out to Mokarraka because of the important message he promotes.

“For me, running a gym is like running a community. So this is not a traditional gym, its a meeting place, it’s a whare. I’ve been advocating for mental health and I feel like fitness is an avenue where I can reach a few more people,” says Naufahu.

This year, suicides in New Zealand reached its highest level, with 685 people dying in the year to June 30. Figures also show that Māori men who are taking their own lives is double the non-Māori rate.