R U OK? is a non-profit organisation dedicated to suicide prevention. Their vision is a world where we’re all connected and protected from suicide.
Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.
- Boost your confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
- Nurture your sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
- Strengthen your sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
- Be relevant, strong and dynamic
Here’s how you can initiate a conversation that could save someone’s life:
1. Ask: Are you OK?
Be relaxed, warm and concerned. Help them open up by asking open ended questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. Is everything okay?”
If they don’t want to talk, don’t push them. Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
2. Listen attentively without judgement or interruption
Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them. If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence. Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly. Sometimes just the act of having someone listen non-judgmentally can mean everything.
3. Encourage Action
Trying asking the following:
- “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
- “How would you like me to support you?”
- “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
If they’ve been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. Their GP is the best person to start with. Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times. If money is a concern, remind them that there are many community centres who offer free counselling for this exact reason.
Remember to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference
Try to Avoid:
- Arguing or debating about their thoughts of suicide
- Discussing whether suicide is right or wrong
- Guilt tripping them
- Trivialise their problems by telling them others have it worse
- Say things like “don’t worry”, “you have everything going for you” or “cheer up”
- Interrupt with stories of your own
- Attempt to give a diagnosis of a mental illness