R U OK? Day is more than a symbolic effort | Editorial

R U OK? Day on Thursday September 14 serves as a strong reminder that we ought to continue asking friends, family members or strangers how they’re going—even if they project abundant levels of happiness.

In the Yass Valley, I’m glad we have the Men’s Shed, the Community Mental Health Service and the Youth Association Centre.

As well, it was promising to see young people at the Rotaract and Interact clubs create Project Reshape to promote mental health earlier in 2017.

Yet more needs to be done by health and governmental agencies.

The March 2017 mental-health fact sheet by the National Rural Health Alliance says that while the reported prevalence of mental illness in rural and remote Australia appears similar to that of major cities, access to specialised mental-healthcare is a different story: it is substantially more limited than in major cities.

The consequence is that rates of self-harm and suicide increases with remoteness.

It seems mental health issues, like depression, are still difficult to accept as illnesses and not being viewed the same as physical health issues.

While not necessarily always a cause of suicide, depression may lead to attempt of suicide.

While physical pain means suffering is optional, depression strips away one’s internal locus of control to choose their response.

The darkness inside the mind of a depressed person is impenetrable to rationality.

Rather than thoughts about what to eat for breakfast, normalcy for a depressed mind includes desire to lie on a train track and feel that sudden finish.

It is only years after you’re finally pulled—whether by yourself, by others, or by luck—out of depression do you realise you had gone through it.

On World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, Suicide Prevention Australia released a national survey that reveals high levels of stigma and low levels of suicide literacy.

Changing beliefs and removing stigma, however, can begin at the individual, family and community levels—that’s what R U OK? Day represents.

On Monday, I sat down with my friend Andrew Douglas to remember Andy Tu, who could always joke with me.

While chatting with Andrew, the journalist in me dissipated; it wasn’t work anymore, it was two friends talking about life.

I regret not having matches against Andy in squash at the Soldiers Club to know him better.

I can, however, remember his legacy and continue asking ask friends, family and strangers how they are going.

You never know when such a question, simple in nature, may save another’s life.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, help is available at the following:

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