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R U OK? No, I'm Not! Now What?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Today is R U Ok Day here in Australia.

R U Ok is a suicide prevention organisation whose vision “is a world where we're all connected and are protected from suicide” and whose mission is “to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life”.

Great initiative! Great conversation-starter! Great question! BUT…(I guess you sensed that “but” coming)… What if I answered “No, I’m not!” What if my response was not the “good-good, Mate”, “well, thanks, Mate!” as is so easily rattled off and has become so commonplace in society. When asking me (or anyone) the question we are encouraged to ask today: “R U OK?” the question I ask you is: Are you really prepared for the answer?

This was something my dear wife, Samantha, got me thinking about the other day

We live in an age where mental health illness is at the forefront of many discussions and articles. Anxiety,depression and suicide are among the myriad of mental health-related topics being spoken of now more than ever before, which is a brilliant thing. It goes a long way (although admittedly we still have a long way to go) in de-stigmatising mental health issues, etc. What this newfound “freedom” to discuss these matters means however, is that the response to your well – intending: “R U OK?” may well be “No, I’m not actually. Here’s why…” The question remains: Are you really prepared for the answer? What are going to do with such a response?

1. Will you squirm uncomfortably and quickly divert the conversation to how dry things are and that “we could really use some rain…”

2. Will you pretend you haven’t heard the response and move onto your next question…

3. Will you, in actual fact, not hear the response, because subconsciously you were expecting and assuming it to be the usual “I’m good, Mate. Thanks. And you?”

Friend, this “R U OK Day”, could I put out a two-fold challenge.

Firstly, to you who are asking the question.

Ask it because you want to ask it – not because today calls for you to ask it. Ask it because you are genuinely interested in the welfare, be it emotional, mental or spiritual, of the other person.

And then listen! I mean genuinely and actively listen to what the response is. Then, be willing to walk the next mile with the person if you perceive the answer to your question as a cry for help. If he/she trusts you enough to open up and answer you truthfully, the worst thing you can do is betray that trust, discarding it like a piece of trash, by immediately moving on and speaking about the weather. PLEASE NOTE! I'm not saying: "Don't ask!" Please DO! Your struggling mate may in fact need you to ask! But my encouragement to you, Dear Friend, is ask it because you mean it!

Secondly, to you being asked the question.

If posed the question by someone you feel comfortable with, then be free in confessing where you are truly at.

It’s time for the masks to be taken off. The masks placed on one by a society that equates success and prosperity with always being “OK”; always being “happy”; a picture of reality painted with the social media brush of perfection.

“R U OK?” I pray that you are, but if not, please say so! Suffering in silence is not an option. Don’t believe the lie of the devil in this regard. Silent suffering can lead to silent suicide, the very thing that “R U OK” as an organisation is trying to prevent, the very thing that this blog post of mine is trying to prevent. My Dear Friend, suicide / “getting out” is not the only solution. Speak up! Speak out! Reach out to someone today.

“R U OK?”

- Yes? That’s awesome!

- No? You can be! You will be! Don’t die in the Winter; Spring is around the corner!

If you need to speak to someone- please reach out to a friend, a pastor, a teacher, ANYBODY! Below are a few numbers you can call, as well. God bless you!

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