R U OK? What if someone tells you they are not?

HELP: Here's a few tips when you ask someone on Thursday; R U OK? Picture: Shutterstock, supplied
HELP: Here's a few tips when you ask someone on Thursday; R U OK? Picture: Shutterstock, supplied

What should you do if a friend, relative or colleague tells you they are not OK?

“The first thing that’s important to do is listen and not underestimate how helpful listening is,” beyondblue anxiety project manager Luke Martin said.

Thursday, on R U OK Day, the mental health of thousands of people across the nation will be on people’s minds. 

Each year 65,000 people across Australia attempt to take their own lives.

An average of 2320 people die by suicide every year.

Statistics in the 2016 Australian Youth Index report showed the rate of suicide for people between 10 and 29 years old is highest in Tasmania, at 45 per 100,000 people.

Queensland is next with a rate of 39 suicides per 100,000 people. 

R U OK? Day aims to start a conversation between mates, relatives and colleagues about mental health by asking a simple question; R U OK?

With depression and anxiety causing people to feel alone, Dr Martin said the chance to connect with someone struggling would have a profound impact. 

He said people should not underestimate the affect they have on people by simply asking if they were OK.

“The power of just being there as they share some of the thoughts they’re feeling and having is great,” he said. 

People should listen without judgment and not rush the conversation. 

He said after listening to someone confess to not coping, people should explore options and help them get professional assistance. 

“The really big one is pushing them towards professional help,” Dr Martin added. 

“It’s so important because you might be the only person to ask them.

“The fact you’ve cared enough to ask them means a lot.”

Dr Martin said it was important people, who took the time to ask someone if they were OK, follows up with their progress after the conversation. 

In 2014, 12 in 100,000 Tasmanians took their own life.

Tasmania’s rate of all suicides is lower than the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. 

It is higher than Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT.

The state government aims to reduce Tasmania’s suicide rate by 20 per cent.

A Tasmanian Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Communications Charter will be developed by the Mental Health Council of Tasmania. 

The charter is hoped to build community capacity and empower Tasmanians to have safe and responsible conversations, as well as providing vital education and training around the importance of mental health.

The Mental Health Council of Tasmania will work in conjunction with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to deliver and implement the charter, with $740,000 to be provided over three years by the state government.

  • If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.