Today is our national day of action when we remind Australians that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
- Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide annually worldwide, which is one person every 40 seconds.
- 8 Australians die every day from suicide.
- 75% of those who take their own life are male.
- Over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt each year.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44.
- The suicide rate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is twice that of their non-Indigenous counterparts.
- LGBTQAI+ community members experience significantly higher rates of suicide than the rest of the population.
What are the signs to look for?
If someone you know is showing signs of:
- Being distant
- Acting down
- Often crying for unknown reasons
- Becoming very angry
- Struggling with sleep or oversleeping
- Shutting you, their family or their friends out
- Acting reckless
- Losing passion for things they love
- Acting in ways they wouldn’t usually do
To some people it may seem like a phase, but the possibility that a person could be thinking about taking their own life is a serious situation and needs to be addressed.
Tips on how to ask:
1. ASK R U OK?
- Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
- Help them open up by asking 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. How are you going?”
- If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
- Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
- Avoid a confrontation.
- You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”
2. LISTEN WITH AN OPEN MIND
- 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.
- Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
- Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.
3. ENCOURAGE ACTION
- Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
- Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
- Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
- You could say: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
- If they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
- Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.
IF THEY NEED EXPERT HELP
Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than 2 weeks – or is at risk – please contact a professional as soon as you can.
4. CHECK IN
- Pop a reminder in your diary to contact 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.”
- Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
- Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
ProActiv People can provide psychological counselling to clients on the NDIS to prevent suicide affecting both the individual and those around them.
Contact us on 08 8362 4507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org