By Clinical Psychologist, Dr Jillian Millar
Every year the second Thursday in September is R U Ok? Day. This initiative encourages everyone to strike up a simple but potentially lifesaving conversation with friends, family, colleagues and strangers by asking if they are okay?
How can a 3 word sentence save lives?
By starting a conversation with someone we can reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and disconnection; it might even lead to or encourage further help seeking with mental health professionals.
It is estimated that around 180 people attempt suicide every day, that’s more than one new attempt in Australia every 10 minutes! (www.lifeline.org). In the year 2010, 2361 people died as a result of suicide. (Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au)
The recent suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams came as a shock to many given his reputation for being such a funny and genuinely nice person. It seems the man who was able to generate so many smiles and laughter was internally struggling with his own private pain. Appearances can be deceiving, perhaps his smiling face and comedic abilities were his strategy for coping. Although a humour defence has some benefits, it can also come with a sense of emptiness and invalidation.
We can all get caught up with busy lives and may also miss the cues associated with someone who is contemplating attempting suicide. The daily greeting of “Hi, how are you?” which is almost always met with an obligatory “Good” largely out of habit, has lost its meaning. That’s why the R U OK? Campaign is an excellent reminder to take the time to probe a little deeper and find out how the people around you are truly feeling. Show that you are genuinely interested to know how they are coping, and don’t be afraid to open up and share your honest feelings when you yourself are asked R U OK?
R U Ok? Day: https://www.ruok.org.au/
For more information on Dr Jillian Millar, Clinical Psychologist and our team of experienced Psychologists, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au