Today is RU OK Day, also known as World Suicide Prevention day.
This is an awareness very close to my heart.
I’m not going to expand on why, because I want the focus of this post to be positive and encouraging.
The message is important not just for today because it’s a special awareness day. This message is permanently, crucially important.
We need to take care of each other. Each of us is uniquely placed to offer support and encouragement to the people we know – friends, families, colleagues, students, whoever we cross paths with in our lives. That doesn’t mean we have to be their only support, although sometimes we might be just that.
If you think someone is down, if they look tired or unwell, or notice they’re not taking care of themselves as well as they usually do, ask them if they are okay. Don’t just ask as a throwaway question. Be willing to have a quality conversation that includes questions like:
- What’s going on?
- What do you need?
- How can I help?
- Is there someone I can contact for you?
Taking the time to check in with someone deliberately and thoughtfully is a powerful communication of care and concern.
It’s important to realise that you or I might be the one positive thing that happens in someone’s day. We might be the only source of encouragement and light that they encounter.
We also need to consider the power of our words. A curt dismissal or snide remark in response to a comment that might actually be a true confession of desperation, depression or anxiety can be incredibly destructive. We should never, ever be making a joke of that. Yes, sometimes it is attention-seeking or needless drama— but sometimes it’s not.
A kind word or message of encouragement could be the difference between someone actually deciding that now is the time to end their life, or not.
I know. It’s a huge responsibility.
But imagine a world where each of us gives someone that kind of support, and someone else gives it to us when we need it.
And if you’re thinking you’ll never need it, stop right now and be very, very thankful for the blessings in your life and the comfort of good, stable mental health. It’s not possible to emphasise enough just how lucky you are.
If you’re one of those who is struggling, or feeling like you’re drowning, or tired of treading water… please, please, talk to someone. Seek help. Look for reasons — any reason — to stay. Please stay.
I wrote this poem after one of the darkest seasons of my life thus far. I hope that you will gain both perspective and insight from reading it.