Did you know that for every death by suicide, there are over 30 people who have attempted to take their life? That means that yesterday alone over 240 people attempted, with 8 people passing due to suicide.

These staggering statistics have seen suicide become the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44 according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. While we understand that suicide prevention is an enormously complex challenge many throughout the world face, we also know that these statistics need to change.

This year, as we do every year, we sat down and had a conversation to bring in R U OK? Day. This annual event encourages all Australians to take the time to ask their friends, family, and colleagues if they are okay as we work together to raise awareness for the issues that surround suicide and mental health.

 

What is R U OK Day?

On the first week of September each year we come together nationwide to celebrate R U Ok? Day, a time where we build awareness surrounding the sometimes isolating topics of mental health and depression.

A conversation can change a life. That’s why, the overarching theme of the day is to encourage people to show compassion as we check in with the people around us and ask R U OK?

Whether you notice someone you care about isn’t themselves, or a colleague feeling down, it is important to take the time to start a conversation. Through asking people directly how they are doing, we can begin to normalise discussions about mental health, opposing stigmas of mental illness being something we need to hide.

 

 

How can we improve mental health in Australia?

Recent studies have revealed that social isolation and loneliness are two of the biggest contributing factors to poor mental health and suicidal ideation in Australia. With 1 in 4 Australians feeling alone, that leaves close to 6.25 million people who are at risk of developing poor mental health.

As strong advocates for mental health awareness and supports, breakthru offices across Australia regularly host and celebrate events like R U OK? Day to raise awareness and offer support to those in need.

Last year we invited staff and customers to participate in a casual morning tea filled with plenty of food, coffee and heart-warming conversations. We believe it’s incredibly important for organisations and individuals alike to raise awareness about mental health, social connectedness and positive thinking. If we all come together as a community and embrace the issues we share, we can create a better, more inclusive world.

 

Where do I start?

Before you can look out for others, you need to make sure that you are in a place where you can genuinely listen and provide positive support. If not, that’s completely okay, sometimes we need to consider that we may not be the right person to take on these discussions. Try to give yourself the space you need to be okay and consider asking someone else in their support network to talk with them.

If you are unsure of whether you are the right person to approach the situation, try asking yourself a few of these questions:

 

Am I ready?

Am I in a good headspace?

Am I willing to genuinely listen?

Can I give as much time as needed?

 

 

 

Am I prepared?

Do I understand that if I ask R U Ok, the answer may be: “I’m not”?

Do I understand that I can’t ‘fix’ someone’s problems?

Do I accept that they might not be ready to talk?

 

 

 

Picked my moment?

Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfy?

Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to chat?

Have I made sure I have enough time to chat properly?

 

 

How do I ask?

While simply asking are you okay may seem like the easiest option, it is important to consider the best way to show your concern through a personalised approach.

Help them open up through asking open-ended questions that note behaviours of concern like, “How have you been feeling lately? I’ve noticed you have been looking a bit down” or if this feels too intrusive signal you care through something like “You seem distracted, I’m here to talk if you need”. Through this we can encourage people to stay connected and have the difficult conversations that sometimes are left unsaid.

It is important, regardless of the answer, to make sure to take what they say seriously without interrupting or rushing the conversation. Encourage them to explain the situation, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about how they are feeling, and how long they have felt this way.

You can then come together to discuss potential avenues of support and begin asking questions like “How would you like me to support you?” and “What are some things you can do for yourself right now that are enjoyable and relaxing?”. Through this we can encourage the utilisation of strategies to lessen the load, from accessing help to partaking in everyday activities that ensure we are taking the time to look after our mental health.

 

Seeking help

Knowing what to do after having someone disclose that they are not okay is essential to ensuring that you can actively support them in seeking the help they need to better cope with their mental health.

Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone, that’s why it is important to understand when to contact a professional. If someone has been feeling down for more than two weeks or is at risk in their current situation it is important to seek professional guidance to help better manage mental health.

breakthru understands how hard it can be to seek help, that’s why we work to ensure that our mental health services are as accessible as possible. Whether you just need to have a chat with someone or would like to access supports to reach personal recovery goals, we can help.

We offer an array of supports including:

  • Counselling sessions to help manage stress, anxiety, or depression.
  • FMHSS for free flexible support for children, young people, and families affected by mental health.

If you’re looking for more options, you can also contact:

If you’re in a crisis and need more immediate support, you can also call Lifeline or the Suicide Call Back Service for free.

For emergency situations, please dial 000.

We hope you join us in raising awareness this R U Ok? Day and take this opportunity to make genuine connections with those around you.

Isabella Grant

Marketing Coordinator at breakthru
Following Isabella's move to Brisbane, she was offered a role with breakthru whilst completing her final year of studies. Having now completed her Bachelor's Degree of Creative Industries, she has continued with breakthru in a higher capacity, providing marketing and design assistance.

Isabella's previous experience in the social services industry saw her passion for the advocation of equality grow, with her work with breakthru aiming to increase the awareness and representation of people with a disability in the community.
Isabella Grant

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