THREE simple little words could change or even save a life.
And in a bid to curb the nation’s escalating suicide rates, Centacare New England North West and headspace Tamworth are urging locals to throw their support behind the fifth annual R U OK? Day tomorrow.
R U OK? Day aims to inspire more Australians to connect and create regular conversations with those struggling with life.
This is the first time the awareness campaign has been rolled out across the city, with pubs and clubs strategically targeted for the launch.
More than 5000 R U OK? coasters along with posters, and cards displaying tips on starting a conversation and what to do if someone says they’re not okay, will be placed throughout local watering holes thanks to the sponsorship of the Tamworth Liquor Accord and the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association.
“We really want young men especially to check in with their mates and meaningfully ask, ‘Are you okay?’” headspace Tamworth centre manager Helen Carter said.
“We hope seeing the message at the pub after work or sport will help to break the ice and support them to look out for each other and make more conversations count.”
Anyone could be affected by suicidal thoughts, even the happy-go-lucky types you least expected, she said.
“There is a stereotype out there that only people who are down and out would think about ending their lives,” she said.
“The reality is that these thoughts can happen to anyone.
“We can’t just assume that because someone has it all on the surface that they are not doing it tough underneath.”
She said it was crucial to follow up with friends often, not only on the national day of action, as those left behind were often riddled with questions and guilt based around what they could have done differently.
On average more than 2300 Australians commit suicide each year, while 65,000 attempt to take their own life.
A young Tamworth man who knows all too well the heartache of losing a friend to suicide is Dave Caldwell.
Mr Caldwell, whose mate took his own life earlier this year, said it was a combination of ego and a “she’ll-be-right” attitude that prevented many men from discussing their feelings.
“Young men often let their pride get in the way of telling friends how they feel, but, if asked, many are more inclined to talk about it,” he said.
“Ultimately, asking what seems like a simple question can really assist someone if they are in a time of need.
“Assuming you know how someone is feeling is a real risk when we’re talking about mental health, especially among young men.”
As part of the campaign, people are urged to follow four easy steps: ask friends, family members and work colleagues if they’re okay, listen to their response without judgment, encourage action and follow up.