Firstly, a note about my lack of recent blogging. It’s called Exam Time, and thankfully will be over at 4pm next Saturday. Yay! But, this little post just had to be written today…read more to find out why.

There has been much synchronicity in my life of late. To begin with, I started training to become a Lifeline counsellor a couple of weeks ago. As part of the training, I attended a weekend ASIST workshop run by LivingWorks, which is a suicide intervention first aid.

As predicted, it was a pretty heavy course. We began by sharing our personal experience with suicide, and I was flabbergasted by the number of people in the group who had had very close experiences with suicide, whether it was attempts on their own life, or a person very close to them had either attempted or completed a suicide. Some people had had multiple experiences with suicide.

When you look at the statistics, this isn’t that surprising given that over 2,000 people commit suicide per year, there are an additional 15-25% of unconfirmed suicides, and over a million people are reported to have suicidal thoughts per year. Suicide is the highest cause of death in young people. The statistics are frightening, especially given that most people won’t report suicidal thoughts, many suicides are ambiguous, and there are many incomplete suicides.

The workshop used an extremely functional model of intervention, which basically provides skills to recognise that someone may be thinking about suicide, how to reach out to help, explore options with the person, and together, devise a plan to keep them safe. Who knows if, in a real situation, I could actually do a successful intervention, but at least I feel slightly more prepared to help if I ever encounter a person who is considering suicide.

Many of us have been touched by suicide. Some very closely. Some very recently.

I am sure you have all seen the Facebook, Twitter or television advertising letting you know that today is national R U OK? Day. Today is about bringing awareness to the issue of suicide, and encouraging us to ask people Are You OK? Sometimes, reaching out is all it takes. So many suffer in isolation, and when problems mount, and feelings are so low, feeling alone can be all it takes.

I would just like to acknowledge today, and all the beautiful people who have been lost to suicide. And I would like to ask you, R U OK?  I am always ready to listen.