R U OK? Day Date in the current year: September 12, 2024

R U OK? Day R U OK? Day is a national day of action observed throughout Australia on the second Thursday of September. It encourages people to connect with others and pay attention to the people they care about in order to spot the signs that they might be struggling.

R U OK? is a non-profit suicide prevention organization founded in 2009 by Gavin Larkin, whose father Barry had committed suicide. By establishing a suicide prevention non-profit, Larkin wanted to honor his father’s memory and protect other people from the kind of heartbreak Barry’s family and friends had endured. Sadly, Gavin Larkin passed away from cancer two years after founding R U OK?, but his legacy lives on.

The philosophy of R U OK? is based on one simple question you should ask whenever you sense that someone dear to you might be struggling: “Are you okay?” Since mental health issues are surrounded by so much stigma, a lot of people hesitate to ask for help, and it takes a question from someone who cares for them to be able to talk about their struggles.

R U OK? Day is all about initiating conversation to help people and even save lives. Although professional help is vital when it comes to mental health struggles, you don’t need to be a mental health expert to encourage someone to ask for help when they need it. A sympathetic ear is often the impulse needed to start the process of healing.

You should keep in mind, however, that pressuring people to have a conversation about their mental health if they are not ready for one is wrong. If someone is not ready to talk just yet, let them know that you’re here for them and willing to listen once they are ready to have a conversation.

The inaugural R U OK? Day was held on November 29, 2009, but the date of the annual event was eventually moved to the second Thursday of September. Since it inception, the campaign has been supported by many Australian actors, athletes and community leaders, including Roy Asotasi, Simon Baker, Hugh Jackman, Wendell Sailor, Libby Tricket, Deepak Vinayak, and Naomi Watts.

You can observe R U OK? Day even if you’re not Australian because mental health struggles are universal. Ask people you know whether they are okay, do not hesitate to reach out for help if you yourself are not okay, donate to R U OK? or any other suicide prevention / mental health awareness charity, and spread the word about the observance using the hashtags #RUOK and #RUOKDay.

R U OK? Day is also a great occasion to learn the warning signs of suicide that include, but are not limited to, feelings of purposelessness, hopelessness and/or being trapped, social withdrawal, extreme mood swings, impulsiveness or recklessness, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, talking or writing about wanting to die, and others.

Naturally, your concern about the well-being of those dear to you should not be limited to just one day a year. Every day is the day to ask, “Are you okay?”, so make a habit of starting a conversation whenever you spot the signs that someone dear to you is obviously (or not so obviously) not okay.

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R U OK? Day, Are You Okay Day, observances in Australia, mental health, suicide prevention