BY KERRI ELLIS
RU OK? Day was founded by advertiser Gavin Larkin in 2009. Gavin’s father ended his own life in 1995, driving Gavin to collaborate with Janina Nearn to create the non-profit suicide prevention organisation that promotes RU OK? Day.
The day revolves around the slogan ‘R U OK?’, and people to have conversations with others. It is based on the concept that we don’t need to be experts, just good friends and good listeners; a simple conversation could change a life.
Talking to others about mental health helps to destigmatise conversations about suicide, depression and anxiety. These conversations are often difficult to have, especially for males. Phrases such as “Man up”, “big boys don’t cry”, and “don’t be a sissy” were common when I was a child growing up – not said to me, but to the young boys and young men in my circle. “Manning up” used to mean suffering in silence. Now “manning up” means putting your hand up.
What we can do, is ask, listen and understand. The R U Ok website has good advice if you feel you don’t know what to say or do.
RU OK day falls on the same week as World Suicide Prevention Day. It came into existence in 2003. Its purpose is to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. An estimated one million people per year die by suicide, or about one in every 10,000 people.
In Australia, eight people die by suicide each day. Suicide was the leading cause of death in 2017 for Australians aged 15–44; 3128 people died from suicide in that same year. In addition, an estimated 65,000 suicide attempts are made each year.
For those feeling alone, you absolutely are not. Many are in your shoes. You aren’t weak or worthless or soft, for feeling overwhelmed. We live in a crazy world. A world running at a million miles an hour. Speak up, ask for help. You are important. We need you here.
Featured image: R U OK?/CC/flickr