R U OK? It's time we made this a permanent fixture
Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians aged 15 to 44. Every year, over 65,000 Australians attempt suicide. Sadly, over 2,500 take their lives.
There’s a sign in reception this morning. It reads, “R U OK? - Will you ask someone if they’re OK today?”
Why only today?
Look, ‘R U OK Day’ is important. It’s a reminder for us to check in with family, work colleagues and friends and make sure they’re feeling good about things.
The thing is, we shouldn’t need reminding once a year. What happens on the other days?
When you’ve experienced someone contemplating suicide, it’s sobering. It’s frightening.
By then, you’ve missed the warning signs. It’s like you’re in at the deep end and you’re trying to rescue someone being weighed down.
It changes your thinking from that point onward. You’re more aware. You know the signs to look for in future.
Sadly, for some people, they won’t get that opportunity in future. That’s heartbreaking.
People don’t want to end their lives. They want their pain to go away.
Are we doing enough to remove the pain?
No. There’s still a stigma about opening up and telling people how we feel. Many of us consider it a weakness to tell people we’re feeling down.
The old instruction to “man up” was about as relevant in 1950 as it is now.
Anyone who barks anything different is talking bollocks. It’s not a taboo subject.
We can continually play our part in this. It’s far easier to ask someone how they’re feeling than expect them to tell us. It’s likely they won’t anyway.
Let’s not wait until one day in September to ask someone how they are, eh?
Employers can play their part by introducing wellbeing programmes into their HR strategies. Families can switch off the wifi and get together for a family chat - you know, like the ‘good old days.’
Or we can play the part of humans. We’ve all got a caring side. Let’s start using it.
If there’s one thing you take from reading this - keep an eye open for warning signs.
If you’ve noticed an increasing change in someone’s behaviour and actions like:
A loss of interest in things
Becoming easily moody or upset
Decreased performance at school/work
Erratic sleeping patterns
Withdrawal from friends and family
Mentioning anything about suicide
Take this stuff seriously. Think about why they may be doing this. Show interest in them and talk with them about it.
Most of the time, they’ll want to talk about it. If they’re finding it hard to open up, put them in touch with some of the institutions below. Go with them for support.
What about you?
If you’re feeling a bit blue, don’t bottle it up. Go and speak with family or a close friend and tell them how you feel. Please, go and do it.
If you don’t feel comfortable bringing them into it just yet, have a chat with these guys and girls today. Don’t wait for one day in the year to act.
No one should ever feel so bad that they want to remove themselves from this life.