CPR First Aid

How can the R U OK Day Help Prevent Suicide?

how can the r u ok day help prevent suicide

On R U OK Day, Australians are encouraged to ask people around them the question, “R U OK?”. This will be commemorated throughout Australia on September 8, 2022, with the initiative of the R U OK organisation. This non-profit organisation’s motto is “a conversation could change a life” which may start with an “R U OK” question. This conversation may make a difference in someone’s life who may be thinking about committing suicide. It may be done by someone doing self-harm or going through the situations described below.

What is R U OK Day?

R U OK Day is its organization’s national day of action to remind people to ask the question, “R U OK”? Because this may allow us to meaningfully connect with people and start conversations with those who may be struggling and/or thinking of committing suicide. Meaningful conversations are said to possibly change someone’s life with the help of the following steps:

  1. Ask R U OK?
  2. Listen.
  3. Encourage action.
  4. Check-in.

Do these steps after taking note of the tips on how to ask, “R U OK?.

"R U OK Day: National day to ask, 'R U OK?' Connect, start conversations, prevent suicide."

What Else Can I Ask on R U OK Day?

When you ask someone, “R U OK?” they usually answer with “Yes, I am OK”. But, have you ever wondered if they are really okay? What if they’re not, and they’re hiding it from you? Hopefully, they start opening up after hearing these post-R U OK questions as inspired by a Triple M post:

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What have you been doing?
  • How are you feeling?
  • Why have you been quiet lately?
  • Is something distracting you?
  • Have you tried anything new recently?
  • Do you still do your hobbies?

If these post-R U OK questions start a conversation, it may help to listen with an open mind. Then, encourage action and check-in by doing the suggested steps.

How did the R U OK Day Start?

“R U OK?” is Gavin Larkin’s (the RUOK organisation’s founder) honour to his father, who committed suicide. He was among the thousands recorded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to have died from such a cause.

What may be the Factors for Committing Suicide?

Suicide, the root cause of starting the non-profit organisation R U OK, occurred at varying rates over time. It is due to the following factors that influence the suicide risk:

  • Social.
  • Economic.
  • Environmental.

Such factors may affect someone secretly, and it may not be known to the people around, especially if questions like ‘R U OK?’ are not asked.

Suicide prompted R U OK's inception; rates varied.

What is the Suicide Death Rate in Australia?

According to this report, below are the recorded suicide deaths in Australia in 2020. 

  • 3,139 suicide deaths in both genders.
  • 2,384 suicide deaths in males.
  • 755 suicide deaths in females.

Such rates give a ratio of 12.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 Australians of both genders.

Were Males Recorded to Self Harm More than Females?

According to the data above, males have a higher rate of suicide deaths than females. However, the same source mentions that females were hospitalised more frequently than males due to intentional self-harm. It has been recorded to be under different categories, including self-injury.

What are the Forms of Self-Injury?

Self-injury may be in the following forms as listed by Better Health:

  • Cutting the skin.
  • Burning the skin.
  • Biting the skin.
  • Scratching the skin.
  • Picking at wounds.
  • Pulling out hair.
  • Hitting the body.
  • Taking harmful substances.

Such forms may be committed once or repeatedly especially since some are treatable with certain first aid practices. It involves first aid treatments that heal wounds, making them unnoticeable.

What to do if Someone Commits Self-Injury?

If you think someone is committing self-injury, Health Direct advises doing the following:

  • Offer them support.
  • Show that you care.
  • Encourage them to get professional help.
  • Check-in with them by continuing conversations about their mental health which may start by simply asking them ‘R U OK?’.

However, if you think their safety is at risk, the site advises calling 000 immediately. Emergency help may provide first aid responses before it’s too late. Medical attention may start with a first aid treatment before a patient is brought to a hospital. The skills and knowledge in providing such are taught in a first aid course in Australia.

What to Do After Asking Someone R U OK?

The “R U OK?” question should be asked to anyone, whether they are displaying signs of self-injury or not. As self-injury may not be the only sign or risk factor for suicide. It includes the following as stated on this site:

  • A stressful event has recently occurred in their life.
  • A person is experiencing a physical illness.
  • A person has a current mental illness (like depression).
  • Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • A person is experiencing poor living conditions.
  • There are possible signs and/or confessions of violence or assault.

The R U OK Day may make a person confess to struggling and having suicidal thoughts. If so, offering them support may be done next as mentioned above. You may even reach out to multiple resources to help you do this. Such resources include the link to professionals, strategies, plans, and programs for preventing suicide.

The "R U OK?" question should be asked to anyone, whether they are displaying signs of self-injury or not. As self-injury may not be the only sign or risk factor for suicide.

What to do After the R U OK Day?

If on the R U OK Day, you sought additional support for someone with suicidal thoughts, it may help to check in with them even after September 8. It may be done as suggested by the RUOK organisation:

  • Get in touch with them every other time.
  • Ask about the situation of their current struggles and if it has improved. If not, don’t judge them and listen to how they manage.
  • Show genuine care and concern by staying in touch and being there for them.

These simple things may make a difference, so going over the R U OK Day may help. It is also not the only day you can ask someone ‘R U OK?’ as it can be asked anytime, especially if someone you know is going through the risk factors mentioned above.

Conclusion

The R U OK Day reminds Australians to ask ‘R U OK?’ that will allow us to connect meaningfully with people. In doing so, we may start a conversation with someone who may be struggling and/or having suicidal thoughts. It may be the start of a suicide attempt or even preventable suicide death by seeking professional help. You may also offer your help, support, and genuine care by checking in with them and asking, ‘R U OK?’

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