‘Keep talking’: Project host’s tearful plea
The Project's Peter Helliar has opened up about the death of his friend, pleading with viewers to "keep talking and listening" to loved ones about their mental health.
Helliar, who is usually responsible for The Project's lighter moments, blinked back tears on Tuesday night as he spoke about Richard Marsland, who took his life in 2008.
In a segment for The Project, Helliar spoke to the late comedian's parents and friends, all whom had no idea of the extent of his mental health struggles.
Marsland had been the co-host of Triple M's Melbourne breakfast show alongside Helliar and Myf Warhurst at the time of his death, devastating his friends and colleagues.
The promising young comedian had died at the age of 32, just as his career was taking off - something his friends still struggle to come to terms with.
We’ve come a long way when it comes to our understanding of mental illness. Yet every day, on average, eight Australians still take their lives. And even years later, families and friends are left hurting. Thanks to @pjhelliar for sharing this powerful story. pic.twitter.com/LA5mN5Zegm— The Project (@theprojecttv) July 30, 2019
"For someone like him, with the generosity and honesty he lived his life with, to think that he could have got to a place where he thought people would be better off without him, it's awful," 2Day FM breakfast radio host Ed Kavalee told The Project.
Sunrise weather presenter Sam Mac also shared his grief over losing Marsland as he had "no idea" of his struggle with depression.
"You kind of play back conversations in your mind or moments in your mind. You try to think, 'could I potentially have helped in some way or let him know that.' Yeah, it's still very raw. And it all comes back when you start talking about it," he said.
Helliar said he wish Marsland had known "just how much I'll miss my friend" for "the rest of my life".
Supported by his Project colleagues, an emotional Helliar pleaded with viewers to "keep talking and listening" to loved ones.
"He was the happiest person we knew, career was going great," Helliar said. "And when I got the call and I was told about it, my manager said, 'They found Richard's body.'
"And I thought he had been murdered, just because it was so far from what I thought could possibly happen."
Marsland's story struck a chord with viewers, with Helliar praised for shining a light on his late colleague.
I know how hard that was to do @pjhelliar but you did such a beautiful job. My heart aches for you and Richard’s beautiful friends and family. Thankyou for this powerful piece. https://t.co/twq5OBLJR0— Carrie Bickmore (@BickmoreCarrie) July 30, 2019
Oh @pjhelliar!!! Thank you for sharing Rich’s story. I had no idea. We have got to do more. We are doing more, now, than we were ten years ago, but there’s still a long way to go! Thank you @theprojecttv! #suicide @LifelineAust 13 11 14 #TheProjectTV— Matthew Barker🏳️🌈 (@MatthewRWBarker) July 30, 2019
I think about Richard so often. I never knew him but I loved his radio persona. His death shocked me to my core and it made me think about my own mental health so much more. Richard you are greatly missed. Thank you for showing the public who he was @pjhelliar #TheProjectTV— Beer-related mishaps (@bannermania) July 30, 2019
In tears while eating dinner after watching @pjhelliar’s share the story of his mate Richard and the importance of talking about mental health - especially with men. Yet again #TheProjectTV absolutely nailing it.— Kyle Laidlaw (@Kyle_Laidlaw) July 30, 2019
The Project airs Sunday to Friday at 6.30pm on Network 10
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