On Thursday, Sept 12, Australian will ask each other "Are you OK?" It is part of an initiative to create a world where all people are connected and protected from suicide. The Australian Social Inclusion Board is encouraging the community to get involved in "R U OK? Day," on Sept 12 by asking the question to friends, family members and colleagues.
Wikimedia Commons It is part of an initiative to create a world where all people are connected and protected from suicide.
"Asking 'Are you OK? does matter, and is so much more than a small gesture. Step out of the shadows and bring someone with you," says Lin Hatfield Dodds, Chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that suicide was the largest cause of death of Australians aged 15 to 44 years with more than 2,300 people taking their own life in 2011. Further worse, among the indigenous population, the relative suicide rate is 2.5 times higher for males and 3.4 times higher for females than for the corresponding non-Indigenous population.
Now, research conducted by the R U OK? Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, shows that more than 90% of Australians feel they should ask friends who are struggling 'are you ok?', no matter how tough the conversation.
"Asking the question regularly is something we can all do to make a difference to the issue of suicide in Australia" feels R U OK? Foundation CEO, Janina Nearn.
Founded by advertising executive Gavin Larkin in 2009, the R U OK? Foundation is an attempt to inspire the nation to speak out and help their mates. Gavin, whose father Barry Larkin committed suicide, wanted to create an organisation that seeks to build a world where people are willing to help others who are struggling.
Last year, an estimated one in three Australians asked the question. This year, it is expected that hundreds of events will take place in local communities across Australia to raise awareness.
"Regular and meaningful conversations have more benefit than people realise, and can change the mindset of someone thinking suicide is the only option," Dodds said.