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RUOK? Day Thursday 8th September
Suicide prevention is an enormously complex and sensitive challenge the world over, with one in eight people in Australia alone taking their own lives every day. Gavin Larkin, the founder of R U OK? Day, chose to take action in order to protect other families from the pain he endured when losing his father in 2009. R U OK?’s vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide, to reduce the stigma around mental illness and increase the likelihood that people will access professional support as soon as it’s needed. Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support those who are having challenges.
Having regular meaningful conversations about life’s ups and downs can make a difference to anyone who is going through tough times. We all can sense when we know something is wrong and we encourage you to take the time to caring, meaningful conversation.
You don’t have to be an expert or trained person to ask a simple question like ‘Are you OK?’. Simply ask the question, listen without judgment, encourage action and make sure you check back in again soon. You don’t have to fix their problem or take away their pain, you just need to help them feel supported and show you really care by carefully listening to them.
On Thursday 8th September, Charleville State High School will be raising awareness and encouraging students to ask the question RUOK? To promote the day, students will be involved in a number of activities during the lunch break and there will be a sausage sizzle provided at second lunch.
1. Ask R U OK? Be relaxed, help them open up by asking questions like “How you going?” or “What’s been happening?” or “How you travelling?”. Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”
2. Listen without judgement - Take what they say seriously.  Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation and if they need time to think, try and sit patiently with the silence. Encourage them to explain.  Ask “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?” Show that you’ve listened by checking that you’ve understood. You could say, “It sounds like you’re juggling a few things at the moment and you’re feeling really stretched.” If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally. Let them know you’re asking because you care and acknowledge that times seem tough for them.
3. Encourage action - Help them think about one or two things that can be done to better manage the situation. It might be they take some time out for themselves or do something that’s fun or relaxing. Ask “What can I do to help you get through this?” or “How would you like me to support you?”  If you’ve found a particular strategy or health service useful, share it with them. You can say something like: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too.” If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or other professional. This is particularly important
if they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find right person to talk to.” Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times, but understand that it may take a bit of time to find the right one. You can find all sorts of help here:
4. Check in - Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, check in with them sooner. Say something like, “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.” Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment. You could ask, “Do you think it would be useful if we looked into finding some professional or other support?” Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional. We can’t rush this or force someone to seek support. Instead, remain optimistic about the benefits of getting help and try not to judge them. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.