IN 2017 more than 3000 Australians died by suicide. It is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-44. In any given year, over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt. Males are three times more likely than females to die this way.
A national day of action and awareness on mental health, R U OK? Day, was held across Australia on Thursday. It was preceded by World Suicide Prevention Day, held on Tuesday.
R U OK? Day aims to promote open conversation on mental health. It champions the message that checking in with your family, community members and colleagues is important and should happen regularly.
Especially if someone is behaving differently. No matter how slight.
On Thursday, Heathcote Health held a sausage sizzle for staff members to open up conversation. Quality Manager Solitaire said the organisation promoted a strong culture of acceptance, especially when it comes to mental health.
“R U OK? is about checking in with our people, regularly,” she said. “It's encouraging staff to do the same. If something seems ‘off’ — trust your gut. Checking could mean the difference between life and death."
She added: “We must continue to de-stigmatise mental illness. It's 2019, it's okay to be transparent.
"Depression, anxiety, all mental health conditions — do not reflect who you are as a person. There is no judgment and no shame."
While many people say they feel comfortable asking, many say they are unsure what happens if answer is, "I'm not okay".
Listening without judgment and encouraging the person to find help is crucial. Never leave a person in a crisis alone. Help is available via the following resources.
Police, Fire Ambulance - 000
Lifelife - 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
GriefLine 1300 845 745
R U OK? Resources
How to ask https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask
Find help https://www.ruok.org.au/findhelp