September 10th in Australia is ‘R U OK?’ day.
It is a Suicide prevention awareness day, and we are encouraged to ask our friends and family ‘R U OK?’. Because, sometimes we’re not but we don’t think we can speak out.
I mean how many times does this happen?
“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m fine.” Actually, my best friend has cancer, I found a needle in my kids washing, any my husband is moving out but if I tell you’ll freak out and won’t continue to talk to me.
Okay, maybe not usually that drastic…but you understand my point.
Suicide doesn’t get rid of the pain, it just moves it on to your friends and family. It is so easy to think that you are alone. That no one cares. That life could never get better from where it is. There is just so much darkness and so much despair. I think a main contributor to the loneliness and hopelessness is a loss of community.
If you look back over history, there was a high sense of community. Men would work outside, shoulder to shoulder, to clear land, build houses, raise and work livestock. Women would work together to preserve produce, teach children, and run the household. They did it together. As life becomes more and more ‘individual’ the loss of ‘community’ is becoming more and more apparent.
When we were at school, we had a built-in community; school, family and friends. But as we grew up and move out of the home; those communities crumble and dissipate. No longer are ‘communities’ something that life give us and we can just fit into. We have to go out and create it for ourselves. It’s not easy. Family may still be there, but as our lives become more and more nuclear, they are not the ‘community’ they once were.
We have our own ‘circles’ of friends, co-workers and neighbours, but unless we reach out and cultivate those relationships, they don’t become ‘community’.
We want ‘community’ to happen, but sometimes we don’t realise that it takes effort. If you don’t cultivate close relationships there is no way you can speak up and say, ‘Actually, no I’m not okay.’.
It’s so easy to have superficial relationships. The type where the proverbial ‘borrow a cup of sugar’ is fine but you wouldn’t reveal to them that you cry yourself to sleep most nights. And I think it’s harder for men. Women can build relationships face to face over a cup of coffee. That kind of thing usually makes guys squeamish. But ‘Poker’ nights are something they’ll put their hands up for, or helping a friend move house or fix their car.
We just have to make the effort to create those communities, those close relationships, and have the courage to speak up and let them know when you are not okay.
It may be a ‘mad world’ but you are not alone, and everything you do, does cause ripples in the lives of others.
So…R U OK?