Are you ok?

Yesterday, I discovered that today is R U OK? DAY in Australia, it is:

“A national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends.”

It is a mental health initiative in support of suicide awareness and prevention. In Ireland we have a comparable initiative Darkness into Light from the highly commendable organisation Pieta House.

I personally know a handful of people who have committed suicide. Or should that be I personally knew? It’s one of those topics it’s easy to be unaccustomed to discussing openly, isn’t it? Suicide. The people I knew were all contemporaries of mine, we were all born in the same decade, some I knew very well, others I knew more loosely as friends or acquaintances. It is odd, reflecting on them openly now, how they have unthinkingly become a group to me—The People I Knew Who Killed Themselves. I often think of them all as a group. I doubt any of them knew each other; even though they were all Irish. I never think of one without the others. Then, there are the people I know who I feared would end up taking their own lives but have gotten back on track somehow or are still just coping day-to-day.

Death is sad. Suicide is sad. I mourn those people. I will never forget them and how they were loved and and let down and helped and how they suffered. I was, previously, very angry with some—but I have forgiven them as the years have passed. I have matured into my 30s and I believe I have a greater depth and sense of maturity nowadays. I think forgiveness is an essential part of maturity. I don’t know where one ends up after death but I do like to think that ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in’ my ‘philosophy’ (Shakespeare). And now, when I think on this group; I send them only love and compassion.

Suicide hasn’t touched my life in Australia; yet. It, regretfully, doubtless will.

But for today and every day when I ask you: “Are you ok?” Please know, that I really mean it and I am asking because I truly want to know. If, by chance, you are not ok, and I don’t ask you, you can tell me anyway because if I have a motto in life it is ‘to do what I can, when I can’ and I’m learning every day how to listen better—to hear the things that people mean but do not say.

“Are you ok? …”

*     *     *

Please note there are services available to you:

In any country, if you are in crisis, please ring the emergency services, and they will direct you.

In Australia, 000 or 112 are the emergency services’ numbers.

In Ireland, 999  or 112 are the emergency services’ numbers.

A non-extensive international emergency telephone list is available here.

Lifeline Australia is contactable on 13 11 14

1life, Ireland, is contactable on 1800 24 7 100

Wikipedia has this list of helplines in some English speaking countries—here. And the International Suicide Prevention Wikia is here.

You can also google ‘suicide prevention helplines’ in your language and your country for further details.

A good place to start if your life is not in immediate danger can be with your GP. A GP can refer you to counselling services. You can contact counselling services directly too—they will take your call.

Friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, even strangers can be helpful when you are not at your best. I know that sometimes people don’t listen as attentively as we might wish they would, but please try to keep talking even though it’s hard, you should find someone to hear you and, if not, there are the services detailed above. There are also countless more services so please do independent research, as you see fit.

My all-time favourite character in literature is Yossarian from Catch-22. Yossarian believes in hope; as do I. There is always hope …

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6 thoughts on “Are you ok?

  1. Reblogged this on All the Rusted Signs and commented:
    After World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday last, my good friend Lauren Coorey has posted a great piece about an Australian follow-up. Yesterday down under was R U OK? Day, which sounds like an good approach to the stigma many people feel in opening up about depression and mental health issues – taking the first step to let them know it’s ok to open up.

    I’ve written here before about the importance of talking, and of friends and family, in dealing with mental heath issues, and I think asking people “Are you ok?” is something we could all do with putting into practice with friends and family any and every day.

    Have a read of Lauren’s post, and take a note of the resources she’s listed at the end.

  2. More positive news coming out of Ireland re. tackling suicide this week:
    http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/millionaire-donates-record-amount-244036.html

    Perhaps, you live in Cork; what a great benefit for your community. If you don’t—how about setting up your own support/community group?

    I have tried to embrace this saying more often than not in my life and have been pretty successful with it—and no, I don’t find it twee:

    ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’

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