"It's still very raw." 11 years ago, Peter Helliar's co-host and friend ended his own life.

As The Project came back from the break and Peter Helliar choked out his first line, he was already evidently distraught.

The story he was about to share was unbelievably close to home.

Suicide kills eight Australians every single day, and 11 years ago Peter’s friend and colleague Richard Marsland died by suicide.

“Richard wasn’t just one of the happiest, funniest people I knew, he was also one of the most talented in the business,” Helliar told The Project audience.

You can watch some of the segment here. Post continues after video.

Video via Ten

“Richard was more than a mate, he was like family,” he continued.

In October 2008, Helliar got a call he wasn’t expecting – not in a million years.

“When I got the call and I was told about it… that his body had been found… I thought he’d been murdered. It was so far from what I thought could possibly happen,” a teary eyed Helliar said.

Richard was found on a Saturday morning in his car by a park ranger at Shiprock Falls in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges. Helliar had been with him the night before.

Richard Marsland
Richard died in October 2008. Image: The Project.

Growing up, Richard told his parents he wanted to be a clown, and he followed that dream - becoming a powerhouse in the world of Australian comedy.

But his mental health issues reared their head early on.

His mother Ally Marsland remembers coming upstairs to find a 22-year-old Richard. "He'd tried to take his life," she told Hellier in a sit-down interview.

"We had absolutely no idea [anything was wrong]. It was such a shock. But he got help and he got better and he resumed a normal life. We kinda thought he was over it and he was well again," she said.

Richard began his career in comedy on SAFM in Adelaide as a roving reporter, before getting a gig on Channel 31.

But it was the comedy show Get This on Triple M with Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee that he considered to be his dream job.

"The funniest thing I've ever heard on radio was Richard's Capper calls," Kavalee told The Project.

Sam Mac and Ed Kavalee broke down in tears on The Project. Image: Ten.

"Warwick Capper had come in to record some lines for the station and what Richard had done, is he'd got them all lined up in the studio and then rung famous people as if Warwick Capper was calling them. It was so funny," he recalled.

He also remembers that Richard was always in high demand - everyone wanted to work with him or have him contribute to their show.

Tearing up Kavalee said,"For someone like him with the generosity and honesty he lived his life with, to think he could have got to a place, where he thought people were better off without him. It's awful".

Sunrise weatherman Sam Mac also worked alongside Richard during his career and told The Project, "He didn't have one enemy, he was so universally loved in an industry that can be quite harsh, he was so supportive and caring.

"You play back moments in your mind and think could I have helped in some way? It's still very raw. I had no idea," he said. "The world was bright and fun and caring, without him there's an emptiness that won't be filled."

Richard parents
Richard's parents told The Project he tried to kill himself when he was 22. But they thought he'd gotten better. Image: Ten.

As Helliar explained, none of Richard's colleagues knew what was going on.


When he died, he'd just finished his first year co-hosting the Triple M Melbourne breakfast show with Helliar and Myf Warhurst.

"The day before [he died] was the last radio show of the year, I hugged him, told him I loved him, he said the same thing back, you become like family. This thing was invisible to us," he said.

11 years on Helliar, Kavalee, Richard's parents, and Sam Mac, are all talking about his death because as Ed explains, "As hard and emotional as it is, we've got to keep bringing him up".

According to Beyond Blue, 200 people attempt suicide every day. People are starting to seek more help than ever before as we finally start to break down the taboo and stigma surrounding mental illness. But the suicide rates are astronomically high.

Of the eight Aussies who die every day, six of them are men.

"We need to keep talking about it, we need to keep listening. I don't begrudge him not telling us, but hopefully 11 years on we know how to have those conversations. He was so loved and he's certainly so missed," said Helliar.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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