two women chatting over coffee, r u ok suicide prevention campaign

Suicide Prevention: A Conversation Could Change a Life

Australia’s annual suicide prevention R U OK? Day is Thursday 9 September 2021.

Every year, more than 3,000 Australians — 8 every day on average — make the devastating decision to end their lives. Australia’s death toll from suicide is a growing concern. More people die from suicide than road accidents each year, and suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the age of 15 and 44.

This year, psychological distress, loneliness and lifestyle pressures as a result of Covid-19 have added another concerning dimension.

While a large proportion of the country is dealing with stay-at-home restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, there are concerns that rates of suicide may increase—or have already increased.

Several factors underpin those concerns, including a deterioration in population mental health, a higher prevalence of reported thoughts and behaviours of self-harm among people with Covid-19 and problems or delays in accessing mental health services.

Increased levels of anxiety and uncertainty in the community, make it more important than ever to reach out and support someone who may be struggling with life’s ups and downs.

This year’s message from the R U OK? campaign is that helping someone is as simple as having a conversation and asking them are they really okay?

Check-in with Family, Friends and Colleagues

Do you know how your family, friends or colleagues are really coping? The chances are someone you know might be struggling and your support could make a difference.

However, the best advice is not to wait until you notice visible distress or crisis before offering support.

Asking about someone’s wellbeing, or having a chat and listening to their concerns, can happen at any time, not just on R U OK? Day.

One of the easiest ways to having a meaningful conversation is in a relaxed setting, where it may be easier to open up. Have a chat over coffee, while you’re cooking dinner or on a drive in a car, can present great opportunities to talk.

Access Resources to Help Ask the Question

There are a wide range of resources available to help champion the suicide prevention message at your work, school or within other community groups.

Access R U OK? Resources for:

Four Basic Steps to Helping Others

Use these four steps to have a conversation that could change a life:

  1. Ask R U OK? – Approach with a friendly and relaxed manner
  2. Listen – Don’t criticise, give them time to speak, repeat back what you’ve heard and check whether you have understood correctly
  3. Encourage action – Ask what support they might need; encourage them to see a health professional
  4. Check in – Stay in touch and follow up to see how they’ve been going since you last chatted.

If you need help preparing for the conversation, try the Action on Google where you can role play scenarios and get tips. The Action is available on any Google Assistant enabled device including Google Home and your smart phone. Say, “Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate” to get started.

Where to Get Help if  You’re Feeling Suicidal

If you’ve been having suicidal thoughts and feel that you want to act on those feelings, seek help immediately. Call 000 and say you’re feeling suicidal or go to your local hospital emergency department.

If you don’t feel able to do this, find someone you trust to talk to such as a doctor, friend, teacher or family member. Some people find it easier to talk openly about their suicidal feeling with someone they’re not close to. If this is the case, consider contacting a mental health support organisation or a professional counsellor.

If you’re worried someone else might be at risk of taking their life, or if someone is talking about suicide, do not leave them alone. Call their doctor, triple-zero (000), or a crisis support service such as Lifeline Australia (13 11 14) or Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 46).

If you’re unable to support someone you’re concerned about, approach someone else in their support network with your concerns.

Contact Psychological Health Care, Perth

Psychological Health Care in Perth offers professional counselling services to help cope with mental health challenges such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

If you need help coping or want psychological support services, contact us today for a chat.