On September 12th, we recognised R U OK Day, an Australian lead initiative, encouraging us all to ask the people around us the simple question – are you ok?
It might not sound like much, but sometimes just that simple recognition from a peer, is all that is required to help lift someone out of a dark place or simply remind them that the world is not always such a lonely or isolating space.
Thoughts of suicide and suicide prevention can be an incredibly difficult conversation to have and often it’s the fear of what the answer might be, that holds us back from asking.
The R U OK initiative focuses on the three factors that increase the risk of suicidality in a person; feeling isolated, feeling like a burden and having the means to act, and addresses them by encouraging connection in the simplest form.
As a therapist working with young people and their families, these are thoughts and feelings that I work with frequently. You might be surprised by how many people look like they’re coping and managing well on the surface, but are actually in a daily uphill battle to maintain the façade.
That’s why I believe that these conversations are so important and it’s a message that should be shared throughout the year. Sometimes we might notice that a friend or colleague is not themselves, but in the busyness of our own lives or with the focus required to manage our own chaos, we might overlook something very important.
By using the strategy set out by the R U OK team and just taking a moment to notice the people around us, we can all have a positive impact on each other.
And you know what? Sometimes we’re not ok. And that’s entirely ok too. If we can all get a little better at asking ourselves and each other, to stop and reflect and have meaningful interactions, we might all be just that little bit more ok.
Most importantly, for the people who are really not ok, it could mean the difference between life and death.
For more information about R U OK Day and the terrific work they're doing, you can check them out by clicking on the name above.