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September 9, 2021

R U OK?: One of the Most Important Questions to Ask

‘R U OK?’ seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? However, this simple question has the power to change someone’s life.

Today is R U OK Day, a national day in Australia that encourages people to stay connected and talk about difficult times in their lives. The initiative is named for the organisation that founded it, the Australian self-harm prevention non-profit R U OK?, which was founded by advertiser Gavin Larkin in 2009 to honour his late father, who took his own life.

Held annually on the second Thursday of September, R U OK? Day encourages Australians to connect with people and help each other overcome emotional insecurities, aiming to address social isolation and promote community cohesiveness.

This year’s call to action for the charity is the message, ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today.’ This message comes as a response to their new research (Kantar Public R U OK? Research 2021), which found that 22% of Australians are not asking the crucial question because there has not been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help.

The charity is encouraging all Australians to consider how people in their world are really doing and to make it a part of their daily life to have a conversation with them.

We’re learning to talk about suicide, depression and all life’s tough moments, because the more you talk about it the easier it gets. By starting these conversations, we can show people they’re loved, they’re needed and they matter.
 – R U OK? Community Ambassador Lisa Nichols

Among many activities, the charity is conducting a webinar today at 12.30pm AEST about when and how to ask R U OK? in order to have a conversation that could change a life. You can register with the organisation to host an event or online gathering to celebrate the day, which will give you access to the relevant information and resources to make your event a meaningful success. They also encourage everyone to add a splash of yellow to their day with the R U OK? merchandise to spread the word and demonstrate the power of starting a conversation.

Educational institutions like Monash University and the University of Sydney are conducting various activities and seminars for their staff and students to mark the day, while your local community is sure to have similar events on offer. Search for them online to find out how to participate and learn how to start a conversation that could save a life. And remember to ask your mates today, ‘R U OK?’

If you liked this article, check out our feature about looking after your mental health in lockdown here.

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