Where were the 'R U OK' messages when I really needed them?

Alicia Vrajlal
Entertainment Editor

If you caught public transport this morning or tuned in to breakfast radio or TV, chances are you’d know it’s R U OK? Day.

The concept of the day is brilliant, encouraging us all to connect and extend support to those around us or even those who are miles away.

In fact, I was the first to message some of my close friends this morning. Meanwhile others beat me to it with an encouraging text or emoji.

Where were the ‘R U OK’ messages when I really needed them? Photo: Getty

But the thing is, I’m incredibly happy at the moment. I believe I’m the happiest this week that I’ve been in a long time. But I haven’t always been.

Of course, being happy now doesn’t make the R U OK? messages in my inbox redundant, and rather my positive news is a relief for those who’ve reached out to me in the first place.

But I do wish I had all these messages the other days I wasn’t feeling OK.

I desperately wish my friends and relatives reached out to me last week when my anxiety was at its peak, or even three weekends back when my tears were unstoppable.

The purpose of R U OK? Day is to encourage a habit of asking people if they are OK on a daily basis. Yet life gets in the way and we forget.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016), approximately 3000 people in Australia die by suicide each year. Photo: Getty

Why is it that we miraculously have the time to dedicate an Instagram post to the cause on September 13 but every other day of the year is all consumed with our work schedules and family life? I don’t think it’s good enough.

The reason it’s not good enough is because the statistics surrounding suicide in Australia are devastating and utterly daunting.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016), approximately 3000 people in Australia die by suicide each year.

It is the leading cause of death for females and males between the ages of 15 and 44, with an average of eight Australians taking their own lives every day.

One of my friends recently told me she had tried to take her own life in the past on more than one occasion. She’s since worked through her depression and rediscovered a personal strength and desire to live.

I thought to myself though, had fate taken a different turn, I wouldn’t have met her, and what a tragedy that would be. Here was someone who has had a profound impact on my life, and it’s because someone else asked if she was OK that she got the help she needed to be standing here today as my friend.

We need to start asking others if they are okay on a daily basis. When tomorrow comes, don’t wait till September 13 next year to say those three words again. The power of them is unfathomable though incredibly comforting.

You could save a life, and that’s worth everything.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

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