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10th Oct 2013

Time To Talk – DJ Nikki Hayes Speaks Out About Mental Illness And Attempting To Take Her Own Life

"I'm still afraid of girls in large packs."


TV3’s Ireland:AM decided to mark ‘World Mental Health Week’ by initiating a campaign to create more awareness around the taboo subject.

The ‘Time to Talk’ campaign kicked off on Monday and throughout the week many high profile personalities have chatted, openly and honestly, about their struggles with mental health.

The personalities included Cavan footballer Alan O’Mara, Rugby pundit Brent Pope and Radio DJ Gareth O’Callaghan.

Today radio presenter, Nikki Hayes, joined Sinead Desmond to discuss candidly, her battle with mental illness.

Nikki’s struggle began in her teens, what started off as a diet quickly developed into full blown anorexia. The 34-year-old admitted to attempting suicide, being hospitalized as a result and how simply talking about her problems helped her a lot.

“I was being bullied because of my weight, I used to be called ‘anorexic Annie’ and stuff like that by the girls,” she revealed.

“I still don’t have very many female friends so I don’t know if it’s carried on and to this day I’m still afraid of girls in large packs.”

Nikki has battled with mental illness since the early age of 16.

Nikki first attempted to take her own life, aged just 17. The DJ overdosed on the contents of her home medicine cupboard, recalling that she just “wanted out”.

“I was hurting a lot, there was a lot of things I didn’t understand, kind of, with life,” she admitted.

However it was the second attempt, made in her college years, that affected Nikki much more seriously.

“I wasn’t doing too well in college, was in a course I didn’t really want to do, I felt very isolated, very alone. I didn’t really know where I wanted to be in life and thought it would be easier to get out, but the overdose I took, there was a lot more tablets involved, it affected me in a lot more of a way.”

Nikki’s father passed away in 2007, and like many people suffering from grief, the DJ did not know how to deal with her emotions, which in the end lead to a breakdown.

“I partied for about a year, I thought I’d dealt with it, I thought life is getting back to normal and everything is going to be fine and then bang, I hit a big wall.”

Nikki found it tough to cope with day-to-day living, even small task proved extremely difficult, something that anyone who has lost a family member or friend can relate to.

“I realised that no ones going to help me unless I try to help myself,” Nikki continued.

“You know I wanted someone to fix me but I didn’t want to have to do it, when you realise that you have to fix yourself… I’ve got people around me who actually care about me.”

Nikki encouraged anyone suffering with suicidal thoughts to “pick up the phone.”

“I know its an old cliché, but the Samaritans are there, there are support networks, they will talk to you, I remember emailing the Samaritans and they emailed me back because I didn’t want to talk to them on the phone, reach out, there are people there who will talk to you and all it will take is that one person to be there and it just might stop you.”

Watch the full interview here.  

Today is ‘World Mental Health Day’ join in the conversation by using the #TimeToTalk hashtag and for more information about the campaign, visit


Aware: 1890 303302

Samaritans: 1850 609090

Shine (Supporting People Affected by Mental Ill Health): 1890 621631

Console: 1800 201 890

Pieta House: 01 601 0000

Reachout :01 764 5666 


mind matters