Today is ‘R U OK’ Day – a helpful reminder that depression and suicide take more lives than car accidents in Australia annually. And worse, it’s a silent issue.
There are many helpful things about this campaign and I’d encourage each of us to consider how we can create contacts and connections, especially with those who are hurting.
But a good question to consider is this, ‘What happens when someone replies, ‘I’m not ok…’ to your question?’
Here’s some non-exhaustive thoughts:
- Ask earnest follow up questions, ‘How long have you been feeling this way?’, ‘Do you have anyone else to speak to about this?’
- Don’t offer any platitudes or quick fixes – the whole point of the day is to listen, to connect and understand their life. Telling them ‘You’ll be alright!’ or ‘Just think more positively…’ is actually unhelpful.
- Know the difference between emphathy and sympathy. Sympathy relates to the hurt and pain through your own personal shared experience of the same thing. Empathy is a shared sorrow despite not having experienced the same circumstances.
- The goal is not to piggy back someone going through hardship, but to get along side them and steady them up as they eventually are able to walk by themselves. Don’t feel obliged to personally take on any issues that come up, but find ways that you, as a friend, can help this person receive the help they need.
- Pray. This is not a fix-all, nor a cop out. Prayer is a fundamental recognition that we live in a fallen and broken world, and that the greatest thing we can rely upon is not ourselves, but a non-fallen, unbroken, good and loving God.
That’s a start. Let’s pray connections are made and lives saved both for the present and eternity.
Lifeline: http://www.lifeline.org.au/ – 13 11 14
Christian Wholeness Counselling Centre: http://www.christianwholeness.com/ – offices in Mt Gravatt.