What comes after R U OK?
What is R U OK? Day?
Today, Australians around the country are asking their friends and loved ones R U OK? This movement, inspired by the R U OK? organisation, is designed to empower individuals to connect with one another on a meaningful level. Going beyond the superficial, day-to-day conversations we may have with those we care about, and asking what’s really going on for them and if we can help.
R U OK? day is an annual day of action that encourages conversations that could be life-saving. It began after Gavin Larkin’s father took his own life in 1995. Gavin was determined to honour his father’s legacy by raising awareness and encouraging the action that can save lives: connection through conversation.
I’ve been able to channel what happened to dad and my sense of helplessness about that into something positive. – Gavin Larkin
R U OK?
What can I do?
Consider those you care about, your friends and family. Are you concerned about anyone but haven’t had the right time or moment to talk with them? Seize the opportunity today.
Plan how you will ask
Consider whether you’re in the right headspace to ask – and more importantly – to hear the response. If not, what can you do to prepare yourself? What can you do to ensure you’re okay to hear the answer?
Next, consider the time and setting. Ensure you both have the time to have this discussion. Just before work or school is probably not ideal; nor would we want someone to feel uncomfortable sharing in a public space. Try to arrange a quiet, private space for the conversation, where you can both be present and won’t be interrupted or distracted.
Ask: R U OK?
According to R U OK, it’s important to:
Be relaxed, friendly, and concerned
Help them open by asking questions like, “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
Mention specific things that have you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”
Recognise that this may be challenging for the person we’re talking to. It might feel a little weird at first, but that’s okay too.
I asked R U OK? They said no. What now?
Listen without judgement
This is a tricky one, because we all make judgements, all the time. However, it’s important that we do our best to set these aside while we’re talking with someone about their concerns. It’s not about problem solving or finding the silver lining; this is just about listening.
Next, we need to recognise that we’re not trained professionals responsible or qualified to help this person with everything going on in their life. We’ve started the process by helping them feel heard. The next step is to link them in with professionals. If they see a counsellor – great! If not, just having a chat with the GP is a great first step. If you, or the person you’re talking with, is feeling overwhelmed or concerned about safety, remember there are many supports available to you.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
GriefLine 1300 845 745
If you’d like to learn more about how you can better respond on R U OK? day or any other day, we encourage you to check out Mental Health First Aid training in Geelong. The training is designed to empower individuals to respond to mental health concerns and crises. There are short courses that focus specifically on suicide prevention and longer courses to develop skills around other common mental illnesses and crises.