Today's The Day To Ask 'Are You OK?'15 Sep 2011
More people than you could possible imagine are affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts each day... In Australia, more than 2,100 people take their own lives each year, and men are at four times more risk of dying of suicide, than women.
According to Lifeline (www.lifeline.org.au), with each person who dies from suicide, another 30 attempt it. This means that over 20,000 people are directly affected by suicide each year. More people die each year from suicide, than they do from motor vehicle accidents, so why do we tend not to talk about this serious yet sensitive issue?
That’s why Gavin Larkin, founder of the non-profit organisation, R U OK?, thought it was so important to establish the potentially life-saving R U OK? campaign. Back in 1995, Gavin’s father Barry Larkin, a successful business management consultant, took his own life. It may have been too late to save Barry, but his family wanted to honour his memory, and assist in preventing other Australians from facing the same fate, by encouraging open communication.
The R U OK? initiative, which began in Australia in 2009, is aimed at promoting people to begin meaningful and open conversations with those in your life. People with depression or other mental illnesses, can experience feelings of isolation or hopelessness, which if left unnoticed or untreated, could lead to suicide.
So today, September 15th 2011, take a friend, family member, or work colleague aside for a moment, and ask them the question ‘Are you ok?’ It could save their life. Most people who are struggling with emotional problems, wont openly discuss them with others, so don’t wait for signs, because by then, it might be too late. Trust your gut instinct. If you feel that someone may be acting a little different than normal, no matter how slight the change, ask them ‘are you ok?’
Follow these simple tips on how to effectively deal with someone that is going through emotional difficulties. Firstly, ask them if they are ok. If they begin to open up about worries or concerns in their life, listen without judgement. Try to avoid such language as ‘cheer up mate’ or ‘you’ll be right’, as this can make them feel more isolated and alone. Let them know that sharing their problems, is a good first step to resolving it. A problem shared, is a problem halved.
Talk to them about what their plan of action will be to overcome their problem, encourage them to make an appointment with their doctor, to discuss their issues. It is important to follow up on how the person is going. Make a note to give them a call in a few days or a week, to make sure they have taken the next step to deal with their problem.
If you are concerned that the person’s in immediate danger and they could be a risk to themselves, do not leave them alone, especially if they’ve expressed the way they intend to take their own life. Contact a mental health or suicide support line for advice on the best way to protect them. It is vital to let the person you are dealing with, know that they are important to you, and they have your support.
If you’d like to know more about ‘R U OK? Day’, you can visit the website by clicking this link: www.ruokday.com.au – follow in the footsteps of some famous Aussies, such as Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts and Simon Baker, by asking someone ‘Are you ok?’