Today on September 14, Australians across the country are being urged to ask their friends, family and colleagues, ‘are you ok?’
R U Ok? Day 2023 is the annual reminder to act, not just once a year on this day, but on the regular.
Thousands of events will be hosted by community groups, workplaces, schools, suicide prevention networks, and sports clubs, to champion, ‘R U OK?, I’m here to hear’ and reinforce the message that genuinely listening is key to an authentic R U OK? conversation.
Need tips for starting conversation with someone you might think needs checking in on?
Remember ALEC – Ask, Listen, Encourage action and Check in.
R U Ok? CEO Katherine Newton urges Australians to be there for the people they care about, to listen to them, because that one single conversation could be life changing.
“For an R U OK? conversation to be life-changing, and potentially lifesaving, it must be authentic,” she said.
“You need to ask this question because you mean it, because you care about the person you’re asking and because you genuinely want to listen to the answer.
“R U OK? conversations work best when two people know and trust each other. They’re familiar with each other’s routines and behaviours, and they likely know what’s going on in each other’s lives,” she said. “This trust, along with consideration of the where and when a conversation will take place contributes to making an R U OK? conversation truly meaningful.”
This year’s R U Ok? Initiative was developed in response to research that found, four in five respondents who engage in a meaningful conversation felt better about their situation. However, it also found that two in five people, 38 per cent, who say they are OK, are actually not.
Additional data from the Suicide Prevention Australia Quarterly Tracker tells us that 29 per cent of respondents know someone, either directly or indirectly, who has died by or attempted suicide in the last 12 months.
One in seven had experienced suicidal behaviour in the same period.
The rising costs-of-living and personal debt were said to be the number one issues driving distress in people.
The housing crisis hasn’t made life any easier for people too.
As year 12’s also near their exam period, a time that can be very challenging and stressful, they too could be experiencing distress.
“In recent years there has been a lot for Australians to deal with,” said Newton.
“It’s important for us to recognise that the people we care about may be feeling ongoing effects, long after something has happened to them. We need to let them know we’re still here to hear.”
For more information, visit the R U OK? website.