Starting a meaningful conversation with someone you believe might be struggling can literally be life-changing.
Thursday 14 September is R U OK? Day, a national day of action where Australians are reminded of the importance of checking in with their neighbours, family, friends and colleagues to ensure that they are coping with whatever life may be throwing at them.
Unofficially, every day is a great day to start a meaningful conversation. If you spot the signs that someone you care about may be struggling, then you can meaningfully connect and lend support any day of the week.
I'm here to hear
The theme for this year’s event is ‘I’m here to hear’ and workplaces and schools across the country are encouraged to use the day to wear yellow and host fundraising initiatives to start conversations and help raise money for suicide prevention.
R U OK? Day was founded by advertising executive Gavin Larkin in 2009 to inspire Australian communities to support and help each other, after losing his own father to suicide. Larkin came up with the idea with the hope of protecting other families from the pain his endured.
R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton said R U OK? Day contributes to suicide prevention efforts by encouraging people to invest more time in their personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks to be alert to those around them to connect them with appropriate support long before they’re in crisis.
Newton said life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. People can experience things like relationship breakdowns, financial difficulties, health issues or periods of major change at work, home or in life.
“The people in your world won’t always tell you if something is troubling them, so it’s important that you make asking ‘are you ok?’ a part of your everyday relationships with friends, family, teammates and colleagues,” she noted.
“The earlier you give someone an opportunity to open up to you, the sooner they can find appropriate support or, if needed, professional help and the greater the chance that together, you can stop small problems from becoming bigger ones.”
R U OK? delivers a range of free resources to those hoping to lend support including a directory of national support services and practical guides for the workplace.
Having grown momentum each year, research shows that those who are exposed to the R U OK? Day campaign are up to six times more likely to reach out to someone who might be experiencing personal difficulties compared to those not exposed to the campaign.