Lesson 2 - How to ask R U OK?

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Connection is good for us all, so reach out to someone you care about and ask them, "Are you OK?" You don't have to be an expert to support someone who is going through a tough time. You just need to listen to their concerns without judgment and take the time to follow up with them.

Here are some simple steps to start and follow through with a conversation.

1. Ask them, "Are you OK?"

"What's been happening? How are you doing?"

"I've noticed that... What's going on with you at the moment?"

"You don't seem like yourself, and I'm wondering if you are OK?

"Is there anything that's causing you to feel this way?"

2. Listen without judgment

Guide the conversation with caring questions giving them time to reply.Don't rush to solve problems for them.Help them understand that solutions are available when they're ready to explore options.
"How has that made you feel?"
"How long have you felt this way?"
"What do you think caused you to react in this way?"
 

3. Encourage action

"What do you think might help your situation?"
"Have you considered making an appointment with your doctor?"
"Would you like me to make an appointment or come with you?"

4. Follow up

"How are things going? Did you speak with your doctor?"
"What did they suggest? What did you think of their advice?"
"You've had a busy time. Would you like me to make the appointment?"
 

5. Dealing with denial?

6. What if you think the person is actually considering suicide?

If you're worried that someone you know is having a tough time or having suicidal thoughts, it's important that you give them an opportunity to talk about it. Find a quiet, private space to ask them how they're feeling and whether they've had any thoughts about suicide. Speak in a calm, confident and non-judgmental manner to help them feel supported and reassured.
 

If someone says they're thinking about suicide, it's important that you take it seriously. Tell the person that you care about them and you want to help. Don't become agitated, angry or upset. Explain that thoughts of suicide are common but don't have to be carried out.

It's also essential that you determine whether they've already formulated a plan to take their life. Try to find out if they've decided how they'll kill themselves or if they've begun to take steps to end their life. If you find that they have, it's critical you do NOT leave them alone and do NOT use guilt or threats to prevent suicide. Even if someone says they haven't made a plan for suicide, you still need to take it seriously. Lack of a plan does NOT guarantee their safety. Get immediate professional help or call an emergency help line, such as Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. 

People who are thinking about suicide may signal their suicidal intentions to others. In other cases, there may be no warning at all. It's therefore critical that you regularly engage with family, friends and colleagues and provide them with the attention and time to ask them how they're doing.

7. What if I can't speak to them face-to-face?

Remember that they can't see your face, so it's important to verbally indicate your support.

"I wanted to call you and talk a little about how you're doing. Is now a good time?"

"It sounds like you're busy or in a rush. When is a good time to call you back and talk for a few minutes? 

This information is from Australia's R U OK? Foundation. Website: www.ruokday.com