Each year in early September Australians will be actively encouraged to ask “Are you ok?” This national day of action exists as a way to inspire all people, from all backgrounds, to check in with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues.
Why is R U OK? Day so important?
We know connections are crucial to our general health and wellbeing, and that feeling isolated can lead to increased difficulty with our mental health. Held annually, R U OK? Day foster these connections and encourages us to start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life.
With the statistics on Australian suicide rates at an alarmingly high rate the need to take action is real and pressing*:
- Over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt.
- More than 3,000 Australians died by suicide in 2017.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age.
- Young Australians are more likely to take their own life than die in motor vehicle accidents.
- In 2017, about 75% of people who died by suicide were males and 25% were females.
- It is also important to consider that due to a context of intergenerational trauma, systematic discrimination and land displacement over time, in 2017 the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was approximately twice that of non-Indigenous Australians.
How to ask R U OK?
The R U OK? organisation lists on their website a four step model for asking “are you ok?” These include:
- Ask R U OK? Mention specific things that have made you concerned, be relaxed and friendly if you can, and allow for pushback.
- Listen without judgment. Don’t interrupt, take what they say seriously, and if they need time to think sit patiently with the silence.
- Encourage action. Ask about how they are coping, what they have done in the past that has helped, offer insight from your personal experience if you think it is relevant, and be positive about the role of professional help.
- Check in. Make a reminder in your calendar to call the person in a few days or weeks (depending on how immediate their struggle is) to follow up, be prepared to listen without judgment again, and ask if they have found a way to manage the situation.
How to get involved in R U OK? Day in 2019
R U OK? Day is on Thursday 12 September 2019. Check out R U OK? for tips on how to get involved. On this page they provide more information on the top three ways to get involved including:
- Ask R U OK?
- Host an event.
- Join a fundraiser.
*Research from the Black Dog Institute