RUOK Day is on Thursday September 14th.
The official site explains the significant beginnings in 1995, of Gavin Larkin’s initiative, based around one simple but powerful question; Are you OK? This was the very start of what has
become a fixture in both calendars and minds across Australia and beyond. September 14th Even though Gavin is no longer alive, his proud legacy continues as ‘RUOK Day’ approaches once again. concern for people with suicidal thoughts calls for courage to ask the question; “RUOK?” and the skills to handle the answer.
A simple question many conversations
The simple question continually delivers many conversations. The RUOK teams travel to public venues like shopping malls across Australia with a simple but powerful resource; how to ask the question and then have the conversation.
Conversation with both purpose and structure
The RUOK official site makes the important point that, ibn order to be well placed to support someone else, you must be OK yourself. Self-care then, is the starting point relating to any initiative around concern for people who may be struggling with life. And, just because you may not be the best person to ask someone you’re concerned about if they’re OK, perhaps there’s someone else who might ask the important question and even have a vital conversation.
Not being ready or able to ask the question; RUOK, can simply mean you don’t have the time to spend on a conversation that could be very important for someone’s wellness.
What if the answer is NO!
The question as the RYOK site suggests is the beginning. Most questions generate answers. What if that answer to this one is “no”? It is important then, to know what to do (and what not to) if someone answers; “no”, they are not ok. Maybe it is not the best time for them to discuss their challenges right now, or privacy might be an issue, or the timing is not right somehow. These are all important considerations for any important conversation. Especially this one.
If asking such a question as; RUOK? is uncomfortable for you, consider rehearsing until you get easier with the implications of the possible response. Ask open question to encourage them to speak more and you also show the specific things that caused you to be concerned in the first place. For example, “I notice you didn’t seem yourself at the match yesterday, and I’m just wondering how you’re doing?
Even if you’ve prepared and said your piece, asked your questions, started the conversation, this does not always mean they’re ready to open up and talk. This does not mean you’ve failed or are in any way responsible for their behaviour. Leaving the door open for talk later on is still worthwhile. Checking if they’d like to talk to someone else, reminding them that you still care, are still worthwhile.
The art of listening
Listening is an art. Listening well and paying good attention can be powerful resources in attempts to support someone in pain. Avoid finishes their sentences, rushing them with head-nods or other gestures and don’t judge. Silence itself is golden sometimes. Giving ‘space’ to someone so they can process their understanding of their experience before they speak about how they feel can be powerfully supportive. Encouraging elaboration on something they’ve said can also communicate that you’ve been listening well and paying respectful attention.
Sometimes, the problem just might require professional help. This reality implies no criticism of anybody. If it is too hard or complex to address, contacting professionals is just a next logical step. The official RUOK site encourages people to contact professionals. They suggest a range of services including; the family doctor, Helpline (131114), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Grief Line (1300 845 745). The official site for the RUOK? Day link is https://www.ruok.org.au/findhelp