In this wonderful country, 65,000 people attempt suicide each year. That’s a startling statistic that I learned when I was a keynote speaker at the RUOK? event in Melbourne and Sydney earlier this year.
It was a great privilege to be on this conference program and it helped me realise that we can all play a role in helping people we know deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation. One caring conversation initiated by you can change a life! One simple question might help reduce this statistic.
Dark feelings can lead a person to believe that they are all alone and that no one cares.This is especially true when people feel worthless and a burden on others. They think the world would be better off without them. These are lies that need to be dispelled.
One meaningful, caring conversation can make a big difference to someone who's struggling to see a way through.
Simply ask "Are you okay?" - and listen to the answer. Being heard is being valued.
'RUOK? Day' (September 8) reminds each of us that we have a part to play. We can help others feel valued and acknowledged by having simple, meaningful conversations about life's ups and downs.
If you sense a change in behaviour or a sadness in someone you know, take the time to ask them how they are going. You don't have to be an expert to have a caring conversation. When you ask them "Are you okay?”, listen without judgement, encourage them to take action, be willing to assist and support, and follow up with them again soon.
You don't need to fix the problem or take away their pain. You just need to help them feel supported and show you really care by listening attentively. We can all do this. We can help people who are struggling feel connected and heard long before they are enveloped in darkness.