All about the mind

R U OK? Day

15th September is R U OK? Day.

What is R U OK? Day?

It is a day for all Australians (and personally, people world over) to connect with others and check how they are going. In other words, it is to try and help with small problems and thereby prevent something bigger. Like suicide.

R U OK? Day is a suicide prevention day.

It was founded by Gavin Larkin whose own father lost his battle with depression. A secret he kept hidden from family and friends and isolated himself to the point where he eventually took his life. Gavin Larkin though this project hopes that other people ask people they care about one important question: “Are you okay?”

It is a paradox that in this day and age where we can virtually connect with people from all corners of the world, we still fail to connect with friends and family and neighbours on a personal and real level. And sometimes, this isolation can play a big part in someone developing a mental health problem like depression.

On this day (and on others), I would like to take on the message from the founder and encourage you all to ask at least one person in your lives if they are okay. And don’t just leave it at that. Listen to them actively. Ask open-ended questions. Try not to provide platitudes (e.g. “I know everything will be okay“) or be judgemental. Most importantly, if a person discloses they are suicidal, do not ignore them or worse, pooh-pooh them or threaten them. Instead, once again, listen. And refer them to an appropriate service. You do not need to take responsibility for them but you can recommend they see someone. If however they have no plans, do remember to check up on them a day or two later. The R U OK? Day website gives some great communication tips as well. 

Suicide is still considered a taboo subject and not openly talked about.

But it’s time we did. There is nothing scary in talking about suicide. Only if we talk about it can we become more aware in the signs and thereby help prevent it. For someone that talks about suicide and self-harm with every second client, it has become second nature and not shocking to talk about it. But sadly, the greater public still are afraid to broach the subject.

It is but a myth that if you ask someone if they are suicidal, then you are putting ideas into their heads. You have to ask direct questions. Only then do you get a direct answer.

I think Gavin Larkin has done a brilliant job of trying to promote suicide prevention awareness. On a side note, he is not okay today. I watched him on Australian Story on Monday night where I became aware that he was diagnosed with bone cancer early last year and only months later found out that his son had a brain tumour. Amidst all this, he still campaigned hard for his cause. Currently, he is in palliative care with possibly only weeks to live. It is the sad irony of his life. And yet, it makes you realise what an admirable job he has done. I tip my hat off to him.

I hope that long after he is gone, his legacy continues through the R U OK? Day project.

So go on.

Do something.

Connect with a friend.

Ask them the important question.

Just as I ask you, my dear readers and friends: “Are you okay?

[You can email me if you want to ‘talk’. On the other hand, if you are suicidal, I would recommend contacting your doctor or therapist. If you are in Australia, call Lifeline on 13 11 14]

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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No Comments

  • Reply
    nidsitis
    September 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Amazing post. 🙂 I think asking people around “if they are okay” is essential. Especially your friends and family.

    The post is lovely. When I was in college I did a dissertation on suicides. But mine was merely to understand how each case is different. For me it was seeing the idea of suicide from the eyes of a suicidal person. It was revealing in a number of  ways. 🙂

    I visited the links you suggested. 🙂 It was so nice to read. 🙂

  • Reply
    nidsitis
    September 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Amazing post. 🙂 I think asking people around “if they are okay” is essential. Especially your friends and family.

    The post is lovely. When I was in college I did a dissertation on suicides. But mine was merely to understand how each case is different. For me it was seeing the idea of suicide from the eyes of a suicidal person. It was revealing in a number of  ways. 🙂

    I visited the links you suggested. 🙂 It was so nice to read. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jake
    September 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I think its one of the tragedies of the 21st century, we have such a long way and yet some how culturally helping someone is perceived as uncool or unhip. 

    I distinctly remember this one incident that occurred when I was in high school, I was filling in a slam book entry and there was a question in there about what makes me happy and I I wrote “when I’ve helped someone and knowing that i’ve made a difference”. And I got made fun of for that, back then I though that it was just high school and boys being boys. 

    About a couple of years ago I was heading to a restaurant with a friend of mine (this guy was older than me) and we came across this lady who asking people who were passing by for money, she seemed pretty well off so I stopped and asked her what was wrong and she said she had lost her purse and did not have money to get home, all she was asking for was like five pounds. I felt bad and she seemed pretty honest, she wasn’t drunk and did not look like a crook so I gave her money. Guess what happens next ? we get to the restaurant and joined the rest of our friends and this guy goes off on a rampage about what I did and the entire gang starts laughing about how lame it was and how gullible I am. 

    As I was walking back home that day I just could not understand why they felt the way they did, being the over rationalizing nut I am I took apart the incident one by one and tried to figure out why they behaved the way they did and I just could not find an answer. The next day as I was watching Gandhi (the movie) it dawned on me, its just human nature , some of us care while some of us don’t give a shit and some of us just like to sit back and make fun.  I just hope at least campaigns like this will make a difference.

  • Reply
    Jake
    September 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I think its one of the tragedies of the 21st century, we have such a long way and yet some how culturally helping someone is perceived as uncool or unhip. 

    I distinctly remember this one incident that occurred when I was in high school, I was filling in a slam book entry and there was a question in there about what makes me happy and I I wrote “when I’ve helped someone and knowing that i’ve made a difference”. And I got made fun of for that, back then I though that it was just high school and boys being boys. 

    About a couple of years ago I was heading to a restaurant with a friend of mine (this guy was older than me) and we came across this lady who asking people who were passing by for money, she seemed pretty well off so I stopped and asked her what was wrong and she said she had lost her purse and did not have money to get home, all she was asking for was like five pounds. I felt bad and she seemed pretty honest, she wasn’t drunk and did not look like a crook so I gave her money. Guess what happens next ? we get to the restaurant and joined the rest of our friends and this guy goes off on a rampage about what I did and the entire gang starts laughing about how lame it was and how gullible I am. 

    As I was walking back home that day I just could not understand why they felt the way they did, being the over rationalizing nut I am I took apart the incident one by one and tried to figure out why they behaved the way they did and I just could not find an answer. The next day as I was watching Gandhi (the movie) it dawned on me, its just human nature , some of us care while some of us don’t give a shit and some of us just like to sit back and make fun.  I just hope at least campaigns like this will make a difference.

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    September 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    ahh ok. didn’t know about this. learn something new everyday 🙂

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    September 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    ahh ok. didn’t know about this. learn something new everyday 🙂

  • Reply
    Prathama Raghavan
    September 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    A well written post on a topic that needs urgent attention!

    Asking Are you ok? could really make a difference to so many people lives.

    Totally agree about the asking direct questions part. Polite, respectful and direct.

    This putting ides in people’s head by  giving/asking for information is not going out of style. It is the same story with sex education.

  • Reply
    Prathama Raghavan
    September 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    A well written post on a topic that needs urgent attention!

    Asking Are you ok? could really make a difference to so many people lives.

    Totally agree about the asking direct questions part. Polite, respectful and direct.

    This putting ides in people’s head by  giving/asking for information is not going out of style. It is the same story with sex education.

  • Reply
    Prathama Raghavan
    September 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    P.S – While there’s some people like you to spread the message Gavin Larkin’s work will continue! Bravo! 🙂

  • Reply
    Prathama Raghavan
    September 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    P.S – While there’s some people like you to spread the message Gavin Larkin’s work will continue! Bravo! 🙂

  • Reply
    Priyanka Victor
    September 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I have lost somebody to depression-induced suicide and I GET this.
    When is mental-health going to be given it’s due importance in India? We need people to ask this question to each other but I’m sure if I do I’ll be laughed at… Painful. Shameful.

  • Reply
    Priyanka Victor
    September 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I have lost somebody to depression-induced suicide and I GET this.
    When is mental-health going to be given it’s due importance in India? We need people to ask this question to each other but I’m sure if I do I’ll be laughed at… Painful. Shameful.

  • Reply
    Aarathi Selvan
    September 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Excellent Article! I definitely think its important to ask the question and not run the other direction. Suicide like Sex is yet another taboo-ed “s” word. I am a psychotherapist in practice in India and during one of my open-house presentations at a University on suicide awareness I was told by several professors how WRONG it was to ask the question itself!! Asking the question to them meant “giving ideas” to the person. I love the RU Ok movement and the QPR institute (Question, Persuade and Refer http://www.qprinstitute.com/)in the US is also one such that provides training for laymen in Suicide prevention. They have a free pdf book that is an excellent guide to suicide prevention and worth using in practice! Thanks for the resource! 

  • Reply
    Aarathi Selvan
    September 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Excellent Article! I definitely think its important to ask the question and not run the other direction. Suicide like Sex is yet another taboo-ed “s” word. I am a psychotherapist in practice in India and during one of my open-house presentations at a University on suicide awareness I was told by several professors how WRONG it was to ask the question itself!! Asking the question to them meant “giving ideas” to the person. I love the RU Ok movement and the QPR institute (Question, Persuade and Refer http://www.qprinstitute.com/)in the US is also one such that provides training for laymen in Suicide prevention. They have a free pdf book that is an excellent guide to suicide prevention and worth using in practice! Thanks for the resource! 

  • Reply
    Bikram
    September 14, 2011 at 11:22 am

    A nice thought .. but why ask jsut today .. it will help if we ask each other R u ok with a smile every day 🙂

    Bikram’s

  • Reply
    Bikram
    September 14, 2011 at 11:22 am

    A nice thought .. but why ask jsut today .. it will help if we ask each other R u ok with a smile every day 🙂

    Bikram’s

  • Reply
    Shail
    September 15, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I am glad to have read this today. I have a friend who is battling with depression. I do check with him now and then. He stays miles away, I have never met him. The best thing is, he is getting treated for it, with help from his close family. I will make sure to send him a message today.
    I know how easy it is to hide your depressed state of mind (bordering on the suicidal) from even the closest of family members and friends. Quite easy in fact.
    A very relevant post.

  • Reply
    Shail
    September 15, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I am glad to have read this today. I have a friend who is battling with depression. I do check with him now and then. He stays miles away, I have never met him. The best thing is, he is getting treated for it, with help from his close family. I will make sure to send him a message today.
    I know how easy it is to hide your depressed state of mind (bordering on the suicidal) from even the closest of family members and friends. Quite easy in fact.
    A very relevant post.

  • Reply
    Smitha
    September 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I know somebody who struggles with deppression, and I have realised how important it is to talk about it. How people still worry about the ‘stigma’ without realizing that a person’s life is at stake. Your post makes so much sense, I wish it could be read by everybody. 

  • Reply
    Smitha
    September 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I know somebody who struggles with deppression, and I have realised how important it is to talk about it. How people still worry about the ‘stigma’ without realizing that a person’s life is at stake. Your post makes so much sense, I wish it could be read by everybody. 

  • Reply
    jessica36
    September 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Cool that they have a day set aside for this. So important.

  • Reply
    jessica36
    September 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Cool that they have a day set aside for this. So important.

  • Reply
    Justin Agar
    September 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Lol I didn’t get it first, but it’s cool to celebrate R U OK day everyday isn’t it?

  • Reply
    Justin Agar
    September 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Lol I didn’t get it first, but it’s cool to celebrate R U OK day everyday isn’t it?

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Thanks Nids…suicide is such a sad but interesting topic. Why do people do it? Because of hopelessness. Not because they are cowards. And I guess, by communicating with them, we can help them see some hope in their lives, thereby possibly helping someone prevent taking that ultimate step. Glad you enjoyed reading the links…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Thanks Nids…suicide is such a sad but interesting topic. Why do people do it? Because of hopelessness. Not because they are cowards. And I guess, by communicating with them, we can help them see some hope in their lives, thereby possibly helping someone prevent taking that ultimate step. Glad you enjoyed reading the links…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

    In this day and age, showing kindness and being helpful as you did without expecting much in return is often seen as a sign of weakness I think. Particularly with males. It’s a sad state of affairs and that’s why days like these make the world a better place. In the name of a cause, you have the celebs coming out and talking about their own hardships with mental illness and people wanting to help. It makes helping cool!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

    In this day and age, showing kindness and being helpful as you did without expecting much in return is often seen as a sign of weakness I think. Particularly with males. It’s a sad state of affairs and that’s why days like these make the world a better place. In the name of a cause, you have the celebs coming out and talking about their own hardships with mental illness and people wanting to help. It makes helping cool!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I too learnt about this only a few weeks ago T! And it has been going on for a couple of years already. Hope you are okay…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I too learnt about this only a few weeks ago T! And it has been going on for a couple of years already. Hope you are okay…

  • Reply
    Kunal
    September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Hi

    I think R U OK? Day is not needed..when you listen to your friends and family and connect with them on an emotional level frequently. In the walks of life, sometimes we are too busy to notice that some of our friends or someone in the family, or someone we know, are not in their best of mental state and are struggling with problems which make them suicidal. It is not only just important but of utmost significance that we don’t lose ourselves in our quest of money and career and we always take time out to connect with our loved ones frequently. The more the better.

    P.S – I also read your previous post about Decisions…but couldn’t comment before.
    Yes..Decisions….we only get to know about their impact after we have taken them…and the best way to decide a decision is to listen to what your heart has to say as more often than not..the conflict is between heart and mind.

    Your views somehow resemble the philosophies which I read in the book “The unbearable Lightness of Being” 🙂

  • Reply
    Kunal
    September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Hi

    I think R U OK? Day is not needed..when you listen to your friends and family and connect with them on an emotional level frequently. In the walks of life, sometimes we are too busy to notice that some of our friends or someone in the family, or someone we know, are not in their best of mental state and are struggling with problems which make them suicidal. It is not only just important but of utmost significance that we don’t lose ourselves in our quest of money and career and we always take time out to connect with our loved ones frequently. The more the better.

    P.S – I also read your previous post about Decisions…but couldn’t comment before.
    Yes..Decisions….we only get to know about their impact after we have taken them…and the best way to decide a decision is to listen to what your heart has to say as more often than not..the conflict is between heart and mind.

    Your views somehow resemble the philosophies which I read in the book “The unbearable Lightness of Being” 🙂

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    It is such an important issue world over, isn’t it Prathama? I don’t know where people get the idea that talking about sex or suicide leads to an increase in both when research clearly shows otherwise! Sigh…don’t know when the world will change…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    It is such an important issue world over, isn’t it Prathama? I don’t know where people get the idea that talking about sex or suicide leads to an increase in both when research clearly shows otherwise! Sigh…don’t know when the world will change…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    And thanks for this comment Prathama! 🙂 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    And thanks for this comment Prathama! 🙂 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Don’t even get me started on mental health in India Priyanka! You would think with the number of suicides in young people there they would start taking it more seriously. I knew someone in my building who took his own life on an impulse after being caught cheating in an exam. Sorry to hear about the person you lost…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Don’t even get me started on mental health in India Priyanka! You would think with the number of suicides in young people there they would start taking it more seriously. I knew someone in my building who took his own life on an impulse after being caught cheating in an exam. Sorry to hear about the person you lost…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Welcome here Aarathi! I agree of how both suicide and sex are taboo and the same idea seems to exist about talking about them increasing the chances of occurrence. Which is utter bull according to research! Thanks for the link…I’m going to check that out! Do keep visiting…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Welcome here Aarathi! I agree of how both suicide and sex are taboo and the same idea seems to exist about talking about them increasing the chances of occurrence. Which is utter bull according to research! Thanks for the link…I’m going to check that out! Do keep visiting…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I agree Bikram…but this day is a start to get people talking and connecting. Hopefully more of us can continue it on other days! 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I agree Bikram…but this day is a start to get people talking and connecting. Hopefully more of us can continue it on other days! 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Mental illness is easy to hide Shail…I see so many clients whose parents have had no idea they have been suffering for years! Go figure. I hope this friend of yours is given hope through friends like yourself…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Mental illness is easy to hide Shail…I see so many clients whose parents have had no idea they have been suffering for years! Go figure. I hope this friend of yours is given hope through friends like yourself…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I hope so too Smitha…hopefully, some day soon, people will no longer think of mental illness as a stigma but rather something to talk about and provide support for.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I hope so too Smitha…hopefully, some day soon, people will no longer think of mental illness as a stigma but rather something to talk about and provide support for.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Welcome here Jessica! I agree…it’s so important to have a day like this one to create awareness as well as make people proactive! 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Welcome here Jessica! I agree…it’s so important to have a day like this one to create awareness as well as make people proactive! 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Welcome here Justin! It would be great to do this every day but having a particular day is a start! Hopefully people will learn the difference they can make from one day and continue to do it every day! 

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Welcome here Justin! It would be great to do this every day but having a particular day is a start! Hopefully people will learn the difference they can make from one day and continue to do it every day! 

  • Reply
    Jake
    September 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I so agree, but sometimes I wonder why adults , not teenagers but ADULTS choose to behave in the “hip” or “cool” way, I mean you would think thats the shit thats sold to teenagers who are not mature enough to make their own decisions. It really disappoints me that mainstream culture is so shallow. People build statues and monuments for gandhi and abraham lincon and martin luther king but don’t want to practice what any of them preached , really strange.

  • Reply
    Jake
    September 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I so agree, but sometimes I wonder why adults , not teenagers but ADULTS choose to behave in the “hip” or “cool” way, I mean you would think thats the shit thats sold to teenagers who are not mature enough to make their own decisions. It really disappoints me that mainstream culture is so shallow. People build statues and monuments for gandhi and abraham lincon and martin luther king but don’t want to practice what any of them preached , really strange.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 18, 2011 at 4:26 am

    I think even with adults there is a certain amount of needing to be cool or at least doing what the majority do. We could all strive to be like Gandhi but the fact is, no one ever will…it’s all good to revere them but to become like them seems bryond belief for people…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 18, 2011 at 4:26 am

    I think even with adults there is a certain amount of needing to be cool or at least doing what the majority do. We could all strive to be like Gandhi but the fact is, no one ever will…it’s all good to revere them but to become like them seems bryond belief for people…

  • Reply
    indianhomemaker
    September 20, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Really sad about Gavin Larkin, I hope he finds the strength to deal with his own and his child’s pain. Must be tough for the mother… Glad he could create so much awareness for a cause that still needs recognition in India, where the stigma might prevent people from seeking help.

  • Reply
    indianhomemaker
    September 20, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Really sad about Gavin Larkin, I hope he finds the strength to deal with his own and his child’s pain. Must be tough for the mother… Glad he could create so much awareness for a cause that still needs recognition in India, where the stigma might prevent people from seeking help.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 20, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I agree IHM…it’s a sad irony that he’s doing so much to fight for people to help others keep their lives and in the mean time, is fighting for his own. But at the same time, it’s a great cause and as you said, the stigma in some countries prevents people from actually seeking help from anyone…forget professionals!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    September 20, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I agree IHM…it’s a sad irony that he’s doing so much to fight for people to help others keep their lives and in the mean time, is fighting for his own. But at the same time, it’s a great cause and as you said, the stigma in some countries prevents people from actually seeking help from anyone…forget professionals!

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