If someone you love or care about isn’t themselves what would you do? Maybe they are agitated or withdrawn or just aren’t behaving how they normally do, how do you start a conversation to help them open up about what’s really going on? R U Ok day is a day devoted to suicide prevention. Suicide prevention is an enormously sensitive and complex issue so can all of us do our part?
Sometime helping someone is as simple as asking “are you ok?”. Many people considering suicide feel a lack of connection to others and this is exactly what R U Ok day wants to prevent. By inspiring us to communicate with each other and take the time to ask “are you ok?” we can support each other and feel more connected.
So, how do you ask?
Make sure you are ready to ask
Have you chosen an appropriate time? Do you understand they may not want your help? Are you in a good headspace where you can genuinely listen and devote as much time is required? Just like in other dangerous situations, make sure you take care of your needs first. Some of you may say that seems selfish but just like on a plane, you need to put your oxygen mask on first.
Try to be relaxed and friendly. If you are open and relaxed they will probably feel more relaxed around you. Allow yourself to show the concern you feel, after all that’s why you’re here! Be specific about why you feel concerned. There must have been “warning signs” that made you feel worried so try to give examples of what they were.
Duh, right. Take their point of view seriously and don’t try to rush through or interrupt, just let them go at their own pace, even if that means sitting patiently in silence while they find the words. Encourage them to explain how, why and what they feel and try to not judge them. We are all unique and think differently so allow them to express their experiences without reaction.
Encourage them to do something positive about the situation, whether that be trying to unwind doing things they enjoy or seeing a health professional.
Remember to check back in and see how they are doing. Make an appointment in your calendar and take the time out to say “I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to know how you’ve been doing since our last chat”. Even if they haven’t made any changes don’t judge them. The first step is the hardest and maybe they just need to talk to a friend. Your support means more than you know.
If you aren’t doing ok and want to reach out to someone please call lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information about R U Ok day click here.