It may seem simple, but checking in on your mates could change a life.
R U OK Day was born from lived experience. In 1995 Gavin Larkin lost his father to suicide. Through the pain Gavin endured, he knew he wanted to make a lasting difference and help others. The R U Ok campaign initially started in 2009, with a documentary to raise awareness about suicide, however it grew to a nation-wide campaign. Sadly, Gavin passed away to cancer in 2011 but his legacy lives on.
‘R U OK’ are ‘a public health promotion charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives’ (R U OK, n.d.). Here at Eddies, in House groups we discussed strategies to start the conversation with our mates who may not be travelling so well. Conversation centres around four steps:
- Ask – being relaxed and friendly. Ask ‘R U OK’ or ‘How are you going?’
- Listen – take what they say seriously. Don’t interrupt. Don’t judge. Repeat what they say to show that you have heard.
- Encourage Action – you may ask, ‘What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?’. If you’re concerned – seek help from a trusted adult or health professional.
- Check-in – once you’ve had the conversation – aim to catch up with them to see how they are going.
In addition to raising awareness, students participated in various wellbeing activities to improve camaraderie and morale. Some of the activities on offer were: ball games (Captain Ball, Over-Under), Over the River, Tug of War and there was even a Murder Mystery to solve. Year 9 also had the team from Mental Illness ACT come in to speak about mental health issues.
With so many young people today battling mental health concerns especially centred around anxiety and depression, it is important we keep having ongoing conversations about mental health and suicide. This is especially important for parents so that children feel they can speak up and have conversations about how they are feeling or concerns they may have about a friend. It is important we break down the stigma around suicide and share with people if we aren’t coping, or if someone we know is in this situation. A great resource for parents and how to talk with their children about suicide can be found at the following Mental Health First Aid link: https://community.mhfa.com.au/how-do-i-speak-to-my-child-about-suicide/
It is important to start the conversation today.
For further information about R U OK Day go to:
R U OK? (2019). What R U OK? is about: Ruok.org.au. https://www.ruok.org.au/what-were-about
R U OK? (2019). Gavin Larkin & Our Story: Ruok.org.au. https://www.ruok.org.au/our-story
Head of Clancy House