2020 has been a tough year hasn’t it? Australians are hurting. Drought, fires, floods, corona virus, unemployment, health concerns, isolation… Now more than ever we need to connect!
In 1995, much-loved Barry Larkin was far from ok. His suicide left family and friends in deep grief and with endless questions.In 2009, his son Gavin Larkin chose to champion just one question to honour his father and to try and protect other families from the pain his endured. “Are you OK?” While collaborating with Janina Nearn on a documentary to raise awareness, the team quickly realised the documentary alone wouldn’t be enough.To genuinely change behaviour Australia-wide, a national campaign was needed. And from this realisation, and with Gavin and Janina’s expertise and passion, R U OK? was born. Gavin remained a passionate champion of the fact a conversation could change a life, even as cancer ended his in 2011. His legacy is a national Conversation Movement that is equipping Australians with the skills and confidence to support those struggling with life. Now, R U OK?’s vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.
Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.
Their stated goals are to:
1. Boost our confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
2. Nurture our sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
3. Strengthen our sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
4. Be relevant, strong and dynamic
We know that suicide prevention is an enormously complex and sensitive challenge the world over. But we also know that some of the world’s smartest people have been working tirelessly and developed credible theories that suggest there’s power in that simplest of questions – “Are you OK?”
One of the most significant theories is by United States academic, Dr Thomas Joiner.Because his father took his own life, Thomas has dedicated his research to try and answer that question “why?”
His theory tries to answer that complex question by describing three forces at play in someone at risk. The first force is the person thinks they’re a burden on others; the second is that they can withstand a high degree of pain; and the third is they don’t feel connected to others.
It’s this lack of connection (or lack of belonging) that the team at RUOK? want to prevent. By inspiring people to take the time to ask “Are you OK?” and listen, their aim is to help people struggling with life feel connected long before they even think about suicide. It all comes down to regular, face-to-face, meaningful conversations about life. And asking “Are you OK?” is a great place to start. Learn How to Ask here.
Asking isn’t always easy, but it could change a life. To help people better prepare for a conversation RUOK? have stacks of resources, downloadables, clips, guides, posters, conversation starters and more on their website. There are resources for workplaces, schools and community groups. There are special resources designed for those who have been affected by natural disaster and emergencies and emergency service workers too.
RUOK?Day is Thursday 10 September 2020. It’s a national day of action when we are reminded that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able, be willing to support those around us. In the lead-up to RUOK?Day you can be prepared ahead of time so you know what to say when someone says they’re not OK. You can lean how to continue a conversation that could change a life. You don’t have to be an expert to keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK. By knowing what to say you can help someone feel supported and access appropriate help long before they’re in crisis, which can make a really positive difference to their life.