Today is what I consider a day of froth and bubble or one without substance, this is R U OK day. I know that these thoughts run counter to the media hype and positive vibe we are suppose to feel. I guess this will make me Mr Unpopular!
In my humble opinion I think that R U OK day is so incredibly stupid that it would be funny if it wasn’t about such a serious topic. As I have made clear in previous blogs I suffer from mental health issues. I am probably one of the most out there people when it comes to being open and honest about my illness (quiet I ain’t). What is my problem with a day that is to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. Well, here is one day in 365 that you ask someone R U OK and tomorrow people won’t ask and won’t care. It is like an abusive husband buying flowers on Valentines Day for the abused wife or an alcoholic father sitting with his kids as they unwrap the Christmas presents. It is both in-congruent and without real meaning.
To all those who don’t give a flying fig for the other 364 days I hope you feel good about yourself today. After all R U OK day is all about you and you feeling good about yourself. If you ask if I am ok today and if I choose to off myself tomorrow you can at least say “I tried to reach out to him” thus clearing your conscience. As John Lennon said “whatever gets you through the night is alright” so at least this is one night you can get through feeling like a great person for asking the question.
Trust me any clown can paint a smile on their face and make you believe they are happy.
The R U OK question doesn’t go deep enough. It doesn’t start a conversation. Is anyone really listening to the answer? Don’t be fooled the world is not going to suddenly become a more caring and loving place. The chill of apathy will descend upon us all tomorrow. Life will go on as it did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. The only mental health issue ever spoken about is depression so there is no new understanding of other mental health issues. There won’t suddenly be a longer que of people wanting to be psychologists or psychiatrists. Governments are not suddenly going to give money to help with mental health issues or to community based groups that can help those who need it. So R U OK?
Then there is this ridiculous “world suicide prevention day” surely you don’t believe that there will be a world without suicide. If you do then you can head home with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell to Never Never Land. I guess once we get the people to stop killing themselves we can have other great days like:
- No car accident day
- No drunk people day
- No domestic violence day
Because by just saying things like R U OK will stop suicides so surely saying Don’t Crash will stop car accidents or Keep Your Hands To Yourself will mean women and children will be safe. If I were to suggest these other days or
agitate for any of these days you would say I was barking mad. Which means we are treating mental health frivolously by giving a day to ask R U OK and that band-aid will not fix the open gaping wound that is suicide.
The life line statistics on suicide in Australia are chilling and state:
- There are 7 deaths per day by suicide.
- For every completed suicide it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt suicide.
- That is around 200 attempts per day.
- That is more than one new attempt in Australia every 10 minutes.
- It is estimated that around 250 people will make a suicide plan every day.
- It is estimated that around 1,000 people will think about suicide at some stage in their day.
- Men account for 3 our of every 5 deaths by suicide which makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death for men.
- For those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher for men and 3.4 times higher for females than the national average.
R U OK?
While I do understand that words have power. They have power to hurt, injure and tear someone down they also have the power to heal, sooth and lift up. However, these three words R U OK won’t bring us any closer to either an understanding of mental health issues or stemming the torrent of suicides. This is like trying to hold back a flood using a thimble.
We need to become a more compassionate nation that stops being so focused on our own wants and needs to be able to see that a neighbour might be hurting, or a work colleague or a family member. One day a year isn’t going to do it. R U OK day isn’t going to change a thing. It is like putting lipstick on your granny.
R U OK?