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R U OK? Day. Because asking R U OK? can save a life.

R U OK? Day. Because asking R U OK? can save a life.
R U OK? Day. Because asking R U OK? can save a life.

R U OK? is a charity that encourages meaningful conversations and meaningful connections to prevent death by suicide.

Whilst suicide risk is multifactorial and complex, and the answers to prevention are even more complicated, everyone can play a part in helping those struggling with life.

 

R U OK? Day

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Social isolation and lack of close and supportive interpersonal relationships do contribute to suicide risk, and we’re not just talking those who are geographically isolated or house-bound.

It is possible to be surrounded by people, yet feel incredibly alone.

 

R U OK? Day

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When you are struggling in life and barely holding yourself together, the cursory ‘hey, how are you going?’ from someone you pass in the hallway does not help. We all know the answer in that situation would be ‘I’m fine,‘ whether you are fine or not.

  • You don’t want to appear weak.
  • You don’t want to be vulnerable.
  • You certainly don’t want to be seen crying at work.
  • You don’t want to burden other people with your problems, and you don’t even know if they care.

There is stigma associated with mental illness, and there is stigma attached to ‘not coping’ regardless of whether there is mental illness or not.

 

This is where R U OK? want to effect change, and this is something everyone can be a part of – friends, family members, colleagues, classmates. Sit down over a cuppa and check-in, look out for each other and if you notice someone is not quite themselves, perhaps they aren’t ok.

  • Asking ‘are you ok‘ is just one way to start the conversation.
  • And asking ‘are you ok’ is just the first step.

 

How to ask R U OK?

Image from R U OK?

 

Be prepared to listen, and be prepared that the answer may be ‘no, I’m not ok.

This situation is one that many people fear, and can be the reason they don’t reach out and initiate this conversation in the first place. What do you say next? What if you say the wrong thing?

All you need to do is be a decent human being.

  • Say you’re sorry they are having a difficult time.
  • Listen.
  • Ask what you can do to help.
  • Do they need further help?
  • And follow-up. Later that day, or the next, remember to touch base to see how they are going. They will appreciate it.

 

There is also the chance the answer could be ‘I’m fine,‘ and you’re still worried that they’re not.

  • It’s ok to tell them that – ‘You don’t seem yourself and I’m worried about you.’
  • Let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk, and check in with them regularly.

 

It is a common misconception that asking someone about suicidal thoughts can increase suicidality. This is simply not true. Evidence suggests that acknowledging and discussing suicide may in fact reduce suicidal ideation and improve mental health.

When you are feeling the absolute lowest, having someone simply, but genuinely, ask ‘are you ok?’, can be enough to lift you up and make you feel like a valid, worthwhile human being.

 

September 14 is R U OK? Day, but every day is the right day to ask ‘are you ok?

You just might save a life.

Please take a look at the R U OK? website for more information and resources.

 

If you need help, you are not alone. 

In Australia, please call LIFELINE on 13 11 14.

Hi! I'm Julia, a lifelong reader, an aspiring writer, medical doctor, and now book blogger, from Queensland, Australia! Go to 'About Read and Live Well' to learn more!

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