The Project’s Peter Helliar broke down in tears on Tuesday night’s episode as he opened up about the death of his former radio colleague, Richard Marsland, who took his own life in 2008.
Helliar blinked back tears during the emotional segment as he pleaded with viewers to “keep talking and listening” to loved ones about their mental health.
“Yeah. Um … We need to keep talking about it [mental illness]. We need to keep listening,” he said.
“Um… Uh, only a few people knew … um, about Richard’s history. I don’t begrudge him not sharing that, or his family not letting us know at all.
He continued: “But hopefully, 11 years on, we know how to have those conversations and we are better at having them.”
Marsland, an Australian comedian, actor and radio personality, had been the co-host of Triple M’s Melbourne breakfast show alongside Helliar and Myf Warhurst at the time of his death.
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
Helliar added: “He was the happiest person we knew, career was going great. I thought he had been murdered, just because it was so far from what I thought could possibly happen.”
Before the segment went on air, Helliar took to social media, writing: “Tonight @theprojecttv I present a story about my great mate, comic genius & the nicest bloke you’ll never get the chance to meet Richard Marsland. We lost him way too soon. Let’s keep talking about mental health. #Mentalhealth”
Tonight @theprojecttv I present a story about my great mate, comic genius & the nicest bloke you’ll never get the chance to meet Richard Marsland. We lost him way too soon. Let’s keep talking about mental health. #Mentalhealth
— Peter Helliar (@pjhelliar) July 30, 2019
Meanwhile, many viewers back at home have since praised Helliar for sharing his heartfelt story, with one commenting: “Thank you so much @pjhelliar for such a personal and heartfelt story, that is relevant to us all.”
Another added: “Oh Pete I was crying in this segment. My heart goes out to you and Richard’s family. It is such a tragedy.”
While a third wrote: “A fantastic piece last night by Peter Helliar on the project last night signifying the importance of being there for someone in need and just listening.”