R U OK? More than just a question

Source: North West Star

SPINIFEX State College student Justice King returned from a recent leadership program with a unique idea to tackle suicide awareness in Mount Isa.

The Year 10 student is campaigning ahead of R U OK? Day on Thursday to encourage students to see how their friends are feeling and hold a meaningful conversation with them.

Under the initiative, students each pick a buddy to hold a conversation with and take a photo of themselves afterward wearing a ‘badge of honour’, with the hope the badge is eventually passed throughout the entire junior campus of the school.

“Suicide and emotional feelings are very broad and a not so nice topic but it’s important to talk about,” Justice said.

She said during the two-week program she attended in Sydney last month, suicide prevention was a focus of her group, which brought about strong feelings and intensified the need for an initiative among young people.

“Because it’s so personal we unlocked a lot of diversified ideas, and what it came down to was that to have a buddy you need to be a buddy so you don’t feel alone,” she said.

“It’s about starting a community conversation because a conversation really can change a life.”

Justice made a presentation about the R U OK? project before the junior campus yesterday, outlining her idea, including the importance of students expanding the project beyond their immediate social circle, and even to include teachers and other staff.

The ladies in the school’s office will keep a card to show who has worn the badge, and everyone involved will post the photo of them and their buddy to Facebook.

National R U OK? Day will be held on Thursday, aiming to get people comfortably talking about their general health and wellbeing.

Four steps to connect with someone:

1. Ask R U OK?

Start a conversation somewhere private, ask open-ended questions and build trust through open and relaxed body language

2. Listen without judgement

Give them time to reply, avoid solving their problems and don’t trivialise what they’re feeling

3. Encourage action

Summarise the issues, ask them what they plan to do and urge them to take one step toward that solution

4. Follow Up

Put a note in your diary to call them in one week, listen without judgement again and ask if they’ve managed to take that first step. If they deny he problem they’re not ready to talk, so check in with them soon, and remember it’s okay to say ‘I’m not okay’.

Justice King and Kayla Boutcher do their bit for R U OK Day.

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