Thursday the 12th September is R U OK? Day, a national day of action in suicide prevention. As a father, it has a special impact with me having to acknowledge that this month also marks four years since my eldest son succumbed to the pressures of life.
Research commissioned by R U OK? found that nearly two thirds of Australians are not confident they can recognise the signs that someone may be struggling with life and almost half hadn’t asked someone if they were ok because they weren’t sure of the signs.
In my case, I was working overseas at the time. I explained to my own father later that phone conversations with my son at the time were like walking on eggshells, the smallest word out of place was enough to create a mood swing and yet, we were also planning a future together on our new farm for when I returned to Australia.
R U OK? CEO, Katherine Newton says, “Signs can be subtle changes in verbal or non-verbal behaviour. You might spot a loved one is having unusual mood swings, changes in sleep, or a mate might be withdrawing from social situations, like not turning up to sport training.
“We’re encouraging people to look out for those cues. We should also make a conscious effort to reach out to someone going through a significant life change such as job loss, relationship breakdown, study pressure or perhaps becoming a parent.”
If in doubt, people should trust their gut feeling. Take action and learn the signs beforehand and understand the four steps to take: ask R U OK? and listen, encourage action and continue to check in. More information is available at www.ruok.org.au.