September 8, 2015 – 3:14 pm
R U OK? wants to inspire all people to ask ‘are you ok?’ to support anyone struggling with life.
Visit R U OK?
R U OK? is an independent, not-for-profit organisation committed to reducing suicide by encouraging regular, meaningful conversations.
R U OK? Day is a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.
On 10th September you’re encouraged to take some time out, have a coffee or a break and start a conversation with someone you care about who may be struggling.
Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.
Not sure how to start the conversation? The R U OK? website has heaps of great information, here is some to get you started…these are tips, not a script!
Be ready > be prepared > pick your moment.
- Be relaxed.
- Help them open up by asking questions like “How you going?” or “What’s been happening?” or “How you travelling?
- Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”
‘What’s been happening? How are you going?’
‘I’ve noticed that… What’s going on for you at the moment?’
‘You don’t seem like yourself and I’m wondering are you ok? Is there anything that’s contributing?’
2. Listen without judgement
- Take what they say seriously.
- Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
- If they need time to think, try and sit patiently with the silence.
- Encourage them to explain.
- Ask “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
- Show that you’ve listened by checking that you’ve understood. Try and do it in a way that shows you’ve listened to all the details and are really trying to understand what they’re going through. You could say, “It sounds like you’re juggling a few things at the moment and you’re feeling really stretched”.
- If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally. Let them know you’re asking because you care and acknowledge that times seem tough for them.
‘How has that made you feel?’
‘How long have you felt this way?’
‘What do you think caused this reaction?’
3. Encourage action
- Help them think about one or two things that can be done to better manage the situation. It might be they take some time out for themselves or do something that’s fun or relaxing.
- Ask “What can I do to help you get through this?” or “How would you like me to support you?”
- If you’ve found a particular strategy or health service useful, share it with them. You can say something like: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
- If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or other professional. This is particularly important if they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find right person to talk to.”
- Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times, but understand that it may take a bit of time to find the right one.
‘What do you think might help your situation?’
‘Have you considered making an appointment with your doctor?’
‘Would you like me to make an appointment or come with you?’
4. Follow up
- Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
- Say something like, “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
- Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
- You could ask, “Do you think it would be useful if we looked into finding some professional or other support?”
- Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional. We can’t rush this or force someone to seek support. Instead, remain optimistic about the benefits of getting help and try not to judge them.
- Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
‘How are things going? Did you speak with your doctor?’
‘What did they suggest? What did you think of their advice?’
‘You’ve had a busy time. Would you like me to make the appointment?’
Dealing with denial?
- If they deny the problem, don’t criticise them. Acknowledge they’re not ready to talk
- Say you’re still concerned about changes in their behavior and you care about them
- Ask if you can enquire again next week if there’s no improvement
- Avoid a confrontation with the person unless it’s necessary to prevent them hurting themselves or others
‘It’s ok that you don’t want to talk about it but please don’t hesitate to call me when you’re ready to discuss it.’
‘Can we meet up next week for a chat?’
‘Is there someone else you’d rather discuss this with?’
Does someone need expert help?
- If someone says they’re thinking about suicide, it’s important you take it seriously.
- Tell them that you care about them and you want to help. Don’t become agitated, angry or upset.
- Explain that thoughts of suicide are common and don’t have to be acted upon.
- Ask if they’ve begun to take steps to end their life. If they have, it’s very important that you don’t leave them alone and do not use guilt or threats.
- Even if someone says they haven’t made a plan to take their own life, you still need to take it seriously.
- For confidential advice and support call a crisis support line – such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. Other places to find help are here.
- If you think that someone’s life is in immediate danger call 000 (Australia only) and stay with them until help arrives.
What if I can’t speak to them face-to-face?
- Use the same 4 steps above and talk to them over the phone
- Avoid calling from a noisy place or whilst traveling
- If they’re in a rush, make a time to call them back
- Remember that they can’t see your face, so it’s important to verbally indicate your support
‘I wanted to call up and have a chat to you about how you’re going. Is now a good time?’
‘It sounds like you’re busy or in a rush. When is a good time to call you back to have a proper chat?’
Can I use social media?
- Social media is a great way to share personal tips and information on coping strategies and wellbeing tips (visit our facebook.com/ruokday for examples)
- Send positive messages but avoid publicly commenting on how someone’s coping
- Encourage a conversation over the phone or in person by suggesting a time to catch up
Think carefully before posting or sharing content. What may be appropriate face-to-face could be misinterpreted online. If you’re wondering how the comment might be interpreted, it’s probably best not to send it and to give them a call instead.
Tags: ask, conversation, depression, friend, suicide, wellness