In 1995, much-loved Barry Larkin was far from OK.
His suicide left family and friends in deep grief and with endless questions.
In 2009, his son Gavin Larkin chose to champion just one question to honour his father and to try and protect other families from the pain he endured – "Are you OK?"
Gavin remained a passionate champion of the fact a conversation could change a life, even as cancer ended his in 2011.
His legacy is a national conversation movement that is equipping Australians with the skills and confidence to support those who might be struggling,
R U OK?’s Conversation Convoy launched their six-week road trip around Australia again this year which will wrap up in Sydney at Barangaroo’s Walumil Lawns on R U OK?Day, Thursday, September 13.
The aim of the Conversation Convoy is to make every day R U OK?Day by encouraging more Australians to get comfortable asking the question, R U OK?
The suicide prevention charity’s 2018 survey revealed 57 per cent of Australians wanted someone to ask them if they were OK in the last 12 months.
Encouragingly, Australians are reporting asking the question more frequently with 81 per cent saying they had asked someone if they were OK more than once in the past 12 months and 51 per cent saying they were asked if they were OK when they really needed it.
However, the results revealed there is still work to do with 52 per cent of people having thought about asking someone if they were OK, at least once, but didn’t.
R U OK? campaign director Katherine Newton said R U OK? Day is a national reminder to think about someone other than ourselves.
“If you worried about someone, such as a friend or colleague, have the courage to ask,” she said.
“We shouldn’t wait to ask – we need to have these conversations every day of the year.”
“Regional and remote locations have less services and higher rates of suicide, the Conversation Convoy’s aim is to keep people more connected. By getting out on the road again this year, we’ll be encouraging everyone, no matter their location, to trust their gut and ask the question as soon as they notice the signs someone might be doing it tough.”
“R U OK? provides four steps to navigating a conversation if someone says they’re not OK: Ask, listen, encourage action and check in.”
The Conversation Convoy will travel 14,000km across the country hosting 25 events across all states in both regional and metro communities including Longreach, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Hervey Bay, Grafton, Griffith and Devonport.
Go to ruok.org.au/conversation-convoy to track the journey or find a local event.
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R U OK? ambassadors including Casey Donovan, Commando Steve, Travis Collins, Tanya Hennessy, Celeste Barber, Jodhi Meares, DJ Tigerlily and Dan Conn have thrown their support behind the Convoy events.
Media personality Barry Du Bois shared his first-hand story of how he started to lose his way emotionally after his mum lost her battle with cancer and his wife suffered several miscarriages during many failed IVF attempts.
“My wife recognised that I was not myself and urged me to talk about it - but I could not open up,” he said.
“She did not give up on me and urged my siblings and close mates to talk to me. Through these conversations, I came to realise that I could not handle everything on my own. Admitting that I needed help from others was the start of getting my life back on track.”
Got a niggling feeling that someone you know or care about it isn’t behaving as they normally would?
By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up.
If they say they are not OK, you can follow the R U OK? conversation steps to show them they’re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load.
If they are OK, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask.
To further support their 2018 campaign the charity has crafted a television commercial called, ‘Signs’, featuring the narration of Australian actor, Jack Thompson.
The commercial illustrates the subtle signs people might be missing in everyday life that indicate someone’s not OK.
Jack Thompson said, “I’ve been involved with R U OK? for many years and can’t stress enough the need for us to step up when our mates need it, even if asking the question might feel uncomfortable.”
“I hope Signs acts as a reminder to look a little deeper, trust our instincts and start a conversation any day it’s needed.”
For more information go to ruok.org.au.
For support day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.