Ask someone R U OK? with Maple.
On Thursday September 8th, the whole Australian community is empowered to engage in meaningful conversations, through the awareness from one of the largest suicide prevention initiatives known as R U OK? Day.
Over 3,000 deaths caused by suicide are recorded each year in Australia, with one-third of these being 15-24 years old – making suicide the highest cause of deaths for young Australians.
Once you have a feeling that someone you know or care about is acting out of character, it’s best to act on it than brush it off. By recognising the signs, learning how to begin that conversation and knowing the proper channels for help, you will have the opportunity to change a life.
Recognise the signs:
By building confidence in identifying signs, you will also build confidence in initiating those much-needed conversations with a friend or loved one going through a hard time. If you notice these signs, it’s time to reach out.
- Sound agitated: confused, irritated, moody, concerned about their future and place in the world, lonely, expressed the feeling of being trapped.
- Acting withdrawn: mood swings, changed online behaviour, losing interest in their passions, behaving recklessly, changing sleeping patterns, lack of care in their appearance and hygiene.
- Difficulty in life situations: relationship and health issues, constant pressure and stress, financial stress, loss of a loved one or passion.
Preparing to ask someone “R U OK?”
In an airplane emergency, you’re always advised to “Secure your own mask” or “Secure your own life jacket” before assisting others. Much like this, you must ensure you’re in the right headspace before assisting another.
Be sure to ask yourself:
- Am I in a good headspace?
- Can I give the time that is needed?
- Am I ready to provide a full listening ear?
Take time to consider:
- Is this the right setting to have this conversation?
- Have I picked the right time in their life?
- This person might say “No, I’m not okay.”
- You will not be the one to ‘fix’ the problems.
- You may not be the person they want to talk to.
- There are support channels for everyone.
Asking someone “R U OK?”
After you have noticed the signs, prepared yourself and are in the right headspace, it’s time to initiate conversation. This may not be easy, but it might be the conversation that could change their life.
- Ask “Are you okay?”: rooted in genuine care and with friendly approach, ask this person questions to help them open up.
- Listen intentionally: take in what they have to say with no judgement or hidden agenda. Sit patiently as they think and encourage them to explain.
- Encourage action: You may attempt to relate their situation to your own experiences or another conversation to validate their position. Take time to explore what actions they have taken in the past and what they could do from this point on (e.g. an activity they enjoy, seeking professional help). When recommending professional help, portray confidence in this method.
- Check-in: Stay in touch and follow up with this person after a time of your discretion.
If you’re worried that you or someone you know may be feeling suicidal, please feel safe to seek help: