R U OK?
That was the question everyone was asking on September 14 during R U OK? Day, a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of suicides in Australia and helping to start a conversation about mental health.
Mental health advocate and Corowa resident Pat Lawson is a big supporter of the day but admits he would like to hear people asking the question on more than just on R U OK? Day.
“We should always be checking in on our family and friends,” he said.
“The message behind the actual day is probably one of the most important messages out there when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention.
“It’s about checking in with your mates or family and doing everything you can to help them and that’s the message organisers are trying to get across with this important day.
“It is being advertised as only one day a year and that’s one of the most unfortunate things about it, it has to be a year round thing, constantly checking in with mates.”
Mr Lawson helps people through his Facebook page ‘3Words’ which he started in August 2015.
More than 5200 follow his page to receive live messages of support and advice.
“I put a post on Facebook about the day and it had a lot of fantastic responses, there were a lot of shares and things like that,” Mr Lawson said.
“To me, that shows that there are people out there that care.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people and, according to statistics, occurs among men at a rate three times greater than that for women.
Helping to spread the word about the important day were staff from Intereach Corowa Community Hub.
Residents walking down Corowa’s Sanger Street on the day were asked the important question by staff at The Hub while being treated to cake and lollies at a stall set up in the main street.
Intereach’s Amber Murphy struck up a conversation with a man originally from Sydney who had recently moved to Howlong.
“The tree change has made him well again,” she said.
“He was in a very dark place in Sydney, he was battling some issues but once he moved away he was happier with his new life.
“This was a really positive story and goes to show we are in charge of our own destiny.
“We do have the power to change things ourselves.”
Amber said The Hub had been taking part in promoting the day for the past four years and has seen the day grow each year.
“The day is a reminder that it is ok to ask ‘R U OK?’ and remind people, and I mean anybody, it doesn’t have to be just your friends.
“By asking this question you are starting a conversation and inviting people to speak out.”
If you are anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.