by Drew Streitberg

“R U Ok?” Day is almost upon us for 2019 and it’s provided me with some time to consider the issue at length. Have we actually progressed since this time last year? Sadly, the answer is no. Awareness about the issue may have increased over the last 12 months but the statistics don’t reflect an improvement.

So here are some statistics I thought I’d share with you:

For every person who commits suicide there are 30 people who have tried (that’s over 65,000 annually)
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for people aged between 15-44 years
Men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide then women
Suicide is the 10th highest cause of death amongst Men (ahead of car accidents)
These statistics are easily accessible to anyone as they come straight from the ABS.

Consider how much effort we put into road safety, vehicular safety, black spot programs, changes in infrastructure, school crossings and general awareness and then consider how you’re more likely to die by your own hand then by a damned car.

It’s staggering.

The focus always appears to be everywhere else rather than where it should be. On ourselves. Remember, it’s your life. You are literally centre-stage in it but we often forget that in the everyday “hussle”.

In organisations, human capital is one of the most important assets in a business and yet it is still barely maintained. The corporate grind is designed to feed you enough work so that you never quite get ahead. This optimises efficiency through constant pressure but this aspect of capitalism isn’t healthy or sustainable for the long-term of either employee or employer.

Statistics show that for every $1 a company spends on staff well-being they get a return of approximately $2.20 through various efficiencies and yet so many businesses are actually still reluctant to contribute meaningful sums of money to the maintenance of their greatest asset aside from the odd corporate lunch. It has to stop.

You wouldn’t keep driving a car that is falling apart would you? You’d maintain it of course. That would be logical. So perhaps organisations should consider applying that same logic to their workforce. That way you’ll run a smoother operation with less “bumps in the road”.

“R U Ok” Day is an annual reminder for people to stop and think about themselves and others and seriously ask the question “Are you ok?” or “Am I ok?”. I’ve seen many people unfortunately treat it as a joke, slapping their colleague on the back and jokingly ask them whether their ok or even worse making a mockery of the individual and using the term “R U Ok?” as form of attack on the individual. It’s pathetic and those individuals need to truly take a long hard look in the mirror and consider that those actions are not ok but also that maybe they actually aren’t ok themselves?

We ask the question “Are you ok?” but are we actually prepared for an answer other than “yeah mate. I’m good.” Do we take it further if we suspect that answer isn’t a real answer? Most people won’t because most people have their own issues in life and honestly, who wants to deal with another problem or drama, especially when it’s not your own?

But maybe we should stop, listen and act. Maybe having an honest conversation in a private setting helps a person on the road to recovery or maybe even saves their life.

You don’t have to have all the answers. Maybe you don’t have to have any. Sometimes all a person really wants is someone to just listen without trying to solve a problem. So if you ask the question, please be prepared to listen. You never know if a 5 minute conversation, might actually save a life.

If you are someone who feels they need to have a conversation but don’t know who to talk to or even how to start. It’s ok. There are plenty of options available to anonymously talk to people such as Lifeline but remember this, your family and friends are your greatest support network. They love you. They are your champions and if you honestly reach out, regardless of how scary it may seem initially, they will be there to support you.

We often let ego get in the way of our well being. Some of the best decisions I’ve made in my life were the ones I made once I finally got out of my own way. So let go, someone will be there to catch you.