Why I’m Not OK With RUOK Day

Why I’m Not OK With RUOK Day

I wasn’t long into my tenure at Kotaku Australia; a few months, perhaps. It was the job I’d been working towards since primary school. And yet after the pieces had finally begun to fall into place, I found myself standing on a median strip, in the middle of a six-lane highway, one of the busiest in New South Wales.

I found myself standing there, wondering what would happen if I took a step forward into the path of the semi trailer passing by.

Obviously, RUOK Day is meant for people like me. Thing is, it’s become the one day of the year I hate more than most.

If you didn’t know already, suicide has rapidly become one of Australia’s biggest killers. More than 2800 Australians were officially listed as having died from “intentional self-harm”, the polite way of killing yourself.

If the number seems small, consider this: suicide is now officially the 13th most common cause of death in Australia, and the 10th most common cause of death for males.

And that’s the amount of people who succeed. The Black Dog Institute estimates that around 21,000 in New South Wales alone try to kill themselves.

Just imagine how big the figure is for the whole country.

Chances are, if you haven’t tried to kill yourself, you know someone who has, or you know someone who knows someone who has. If you’re aged between 15-44, it’s the leading underlying cause of death.

That’s how common place suicide has become.

That’s where things like RUOK Day emerge from.

Why I’m Not OK With RUOK DayImage: iStock

The principle behind RUOK Day is perfectly sound. In 1995, a son found himself growing up without a father. The son: Gavin Larkin, who became the founder of RUOK Day after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

Larkin’s father, Barry, recorded some of his thoughts on audio tapes that Australian Story aired a few years ago. Anyone who’s thought about suicide will be pretty familiar with willingness and ease at which your own mind sabotages itself.

“It’s so easy to just slip into sadness and despair, and a chain of depressing or angry thoughts,” Barry can be heard saying.

One of Barry’s surviving sons later said “he ended up being isolated, and taking his life”. And that’s the point. If people aren’t isolated, they’re less likely to kill themselves.

And that’s the main problem with RUOK Day.

Why I’m Not OK With RUOK DayImage: RUOK Day

A few years ago, in a previous office, someone wandered up to me in the kitchen and without thought, rhyme or reason, asked me if I was OK.

Rather than simply saying, “Sure, I’m fine”, as office etiquette so often demands, I answered the question honestly.

I really didn’t know if I was OK. Life wasn’t terminal at that very second. But not that long ago, I wandered out to the balcony to hang up the washing and peered over the edge. What would it feel like if I hit the ground, I thought. I was completely fine only seconds before then — completely happy, in fact.

But that didn’t stop my mind from being sabotaged. Because that’s what it feels like: whenever things feel good, your brain tries to weigh the scales. Maybe that colleague really doesn’t like you. Maybe someone is being deliberately incompetent to ruin your life. Maybe you should step into traffic.

There’s no rhyme or reason to it all. So maybe I wasn’t OK. I really didn’t know. And I said as much.

Which is precisely the opposite thing you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to answer the question, because that’s not socially acceptable. When RUOK Day rolls around and someone asks you if you’re OK, it’s not to start up a conversation about your mental health.

How do you even start a conversation about your own mental health in the middle of an office? And when someone starts, what the hell do you say? What can you say?

Why I’m Not OK With RUOK DayImage: iStock

What RUOK Day has become is an opportunity for people to ask a question. Being reminded of your connections, your friendships, what you have in this world, reduces the impulsion to leave it.

But the trick is to make an environment where people feel comfortable talking. The focus should be on getting the story told, not convincing someone to ask a question they’re not prepared to hear the answer for.

This isn’t to say that the day, and the foundation behind it, hasn’t been of immense use. A friend on Facebook recently told a story about how they helped a close mate stop himself from “doing something stupid” after they asked if he was OK.

You can’t put a price on time.

But the problem lies in what comes after the question. What happens after you get the response. That’s why the question itself is so painful, almost offensive: because when you answer honestly, the questioner often has no answers.

And they’re not supposed to. That’s what psychologists, doctors, specialist services are for. But these days, even their capacity to help is diminished.

Jennie Hill recently pointed out how the increased awareness around suicide can actually be detrimental. If support services don’t have the necessary resources to deal with the bottleneck of cases, it ends up feeding into the isolation and loneliness that so often becomes a precursor to suicide.

“Imagine if we had a day each year when we all went around asking cancer patients if they were “okay”, yet didn’t fund practical medical help for them or give them any hope,” Hill wrote. “The idea is laughable, yet the analogy is real.”

And as someone who feels like they’ve struggled, perhaps not as much as others — and that’s another problem in and of itself — that’s the irony of it all.

“Those of us who aren’t sick can pat ourselves on the back that we’ve done something good today, and go on with our lives.”

Why I’m Not OK With RUOK DayImage: RUOK Day

I don’t say this to be glib, or to shame or ostracise those who genuinely want to help. You can’t fix something you don’t understand.

But if you’re going to ask someone, particularly without context, whether they’re feeling alright, take it from me. Think about what the reply might be before asking the question.

And there’s always the chance that someone — a colleague, a close friend, or a loved one — will end up telling you anyway, whether you’re prepared or not.

There’s a word for people in certain jobs and positions most likely to notice when people are at risk of suicide. They’re called gatekeepers. They’re typically people who are on the frontlines, such as nurses, paramedics, outreach workers, but they’re also mothers, fathers, partners, teachers, sporting coaches.

According to the Breaking The Silence suicide prevention report, training and informing people in these sorts of roles is one of the best strategies for lowering suicide rates.

But it’s not enough on its own. It’s best applied when included as part of a community-wide initiative, something that increases availability of healthcare, while also reducing the stigma within that community and increasing the capacity for early intervention.

Of course, most of these options are dependent on knowing that someone is struggling in the first place. If they don’t talk, if they continue to struggle in silence, then all the services in the world won’t help.

And more often than not, healthcare services aren’t helping either. The Black Dog Institute found 40 percent of people who attempted suicide and were admitted to hospital received no medical support afterwards.

People who try to end their lives once are the most likely to end their lives for good. And as Lifeline’s report adds, most people who succeed tried to reach out for help:

Internationally, up to 83 percent of individuals who suicide have had contact with a primary care physician within a year of their death and between 50 and 66 percent within a month (Owens et al, 2009; Mann et al., 2005; Luoma, Martin, & Pearson, 2002; Andersen, Andersen, Rosholm, & Gram, 2000).
As Goldney (2008) points out … a common theme among a number of studies maintains that mood disorders have often not been diagnosed in many of the individuals who have died by suicide. In instances where they had been, those people had often not received “adequate treatment for their depressive conditions” (Goldney, 2008, p.28).

Preventing suicide, clearly, takes a collective effort. It’s a community wide approach; it involves your mother, your father, your friends, your colleagues, your workplace, your doctor, your hospital, your hobbies.

It’s more than just a question. It’s more than just one answer. It’s an ongoing process that’s bigger than a day; it’s a problem that’s bigger than a simple query over a cup of coffee.

What RUOK represents and what it symbolises is nothing short of pure goodwill. But the question needs to change. It’s not about whether I’m OK, or whether your friends are OK.

It’s about what you can do when I’m not. Are you prepared to listen? Are you prepared for the answer? And if someone reaches out for help, do they understand what to look for, what to say, what to do?

So often, they aren’t. So often, services can’t. That’s why I’m no longer OK with RUOK Day, because it represents a problem that Australia wants to say it’s solving, without fully putting in the measures necessary to fix it.

So stop asking if I’m OK. Just encourage me, and others who are struggling, to tell our story.

That’s when we’ll be OK, when we feel comfortable enough to speak, to reach out in our own way.

This story has been updated since its original publication.

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support or someone to talk to, contact the Lifeline Australia hotline at 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300 65 94 67 or the Kids Helpline (for ages 5-25) at 1800 55 1800.


  • I lie about it when I get asked because like you say – who wants to say ‘no’ in a crowded office with people you’re not comfortable with? I’ve had two mental breakdowns, one of them almost at the stage of me being hospitalized for my own safety. I take medication (or did, I ran out and don’t want to ask for time off to see my mental healthcare professional).

    I’m sure R U OK means well but honestly, I feel (in my workplace at least) the question is asked in jest, almost sarcastically.

    • I made the mistake of admitting I was not OK at work.
      Now I don’t have a job.
      Once the word got around that I had mental health issues, the management hierarchy couldn’t get rid of me quick enough.
      So much for enlightened thinking about mental health.

    • Hey, friend.

      Please go and get your medication. Especially if it’s an SSRI and you’ve just stopped. That’s bad.
      Your job does NOT need to know what you need a sick day, and you won’t need a certificate for a once off to go and see your MHP.

      Be safe.

  • I think it took a lot of guts to write this Alex. But I think you’re way off base. Your poor experience does not reflect the positive outcome the day represents to me or to others. I have a lot of experience with suicidal depression. I’ve been to more funerals for suicides than any other type. I deal with its impacts on a daily basis. I know for a fact that RUOK day has helped people very close to me remember that they can talk to someone. And I know that the existence of such a day creates an opportunity for people to discuss these things–whether personally afflicted or not. And I read Jennie’s piece on Medium this morning, and I think she’s wrong as well. We don’t fix Australia’s unwillingness to talk about mental health issues by shutting down opportunities like this.

    I want to be asked if I’m ok. I want to ask those around me if they’re ok. And yes, it’s important to do that in a manner and situation that is appropriate and which provides the answerer with an opportunity to respond with ‘no’ and the discussion that follows. So for me, that means not asking the question on RUOK day necessarily. But I’ll ask those people next time the opportunity arises, and I might not have ever thought to do that if it wasn’t for the awareness provided by the concept of RUOK day.

      • One of the things we find, is quite often people don’t have a clue of how to do that. I work in education now, we just had our ‘RU Ok’ day at our school. Sure, the plethora of kids joking about it was abundant, it’s reflective of society as a whole, that the bulk of people will openly joke about it. But I literally, that day, had one of my ‘tough kids’ speak to me about how he feels pressured to perform on the field and it’s driving him ‘insane’ and he’s lashing out at others as a way to cope (his words, not mine) and one of the girls break down crying due to bullying (including the writing of her name in bathroom stalls in the boys toilets etc), when I noticed them both not engaging in the teasing and mocking of the day when they’re normally those sorts of kids. For them to use that opportunity, when we used that day to engage in mental health conversation, to come forward about it to me at least and discuss it, shows me that this day works at least to some degree. I guarantee you, if we didn’t have that day, they’d both be stuck in the position they were, rather than now where I’ve worked with the schools guidance officer and Chaplain, calling in parents and other teachers to help sort these situations out.

        In my opinion the day does work, it might not be to the scale people want it to, it might not be in the way others want it to, people might be disgruntled it doesn’t appear to or whatnot, but I’ve seen directly the results it can have and the effects it can have, so I’m quite happy for it to go on. So no, I don’t tend to agree it doesn’t work and I’m happy to see it go on helping others and being a tool to help, because it isn’t a fix, it’s just another tool, that’s all it should be seen as.

    • The point isn’t to shut it down but for the day to evolve, become something else, something bigger. We’re beyond asking the question. I think the national consciousness has reached that point now.

      • Except we’re clearly not beyond asking the question. Even comments here show that. It’s apparently used as a joke by people in offices who think mental illness is worth joking about. That’s not a fault of the day, that’s a fault of the national consciousness.

        So I think the question still needs to be asked. But I think you raise a good point about changing how and where it’s asked.

  • the concept is fine, but all I’ve seen is light hearted attempts to make a joke out of asking RUOK.

    I can tell you at my low points, all I will ever say is ‘I’m fine’, and this day will not change that.

    I applaud the people behind this, because something is better than nothing.

  • As someone who was in and out of depression for 16 years I can tell you that I am fully behind and support these days that draw attention to mental health issues. If I had someone ask me this question back then and if this day was as big as it is now when I was going through it, I would have loved to have people ask me.

    Even if there isn’t infrastructure at the moment to support the calls/questions people have that result from these days, it highlights the fact that these departments/support groups need more funding. Without these days, they have no chance of getting it. Hopefully this changes in the future when the government can see what is the reality of what is happening with our society.

    Bring on more days like this I say. Society needs to know that this issue is huge and that then hopefully results in the stigma being reduced further and let’s the sufferers know that they are not alone and there are those who will help them.

  • Hey mate, I have absolutely no experience with depression other than talking with a close friend who suffers. On the other hand, I’m happy to listen if you ever want to talk at/to somebody and even though you might not be comfortable with me, I’ll never actually know who you are so what does it matter, right?

    Get in touch if you want to chat.


  • Very well said Alex AND those above! I can see that it might help some people, but having depression myself and having overheard / seen first hand how some people (including managers / former managers) discuss / gossip about even trivial details about other people certainly prevents me from giving an honest answer when asked “R U OK?”

  • Honestly I don’t even do the standard “i’m good” for people asking how I am anymore. I’m not a miserable git telling everyone how awful life is, but I just kind of dodge it and ask how they are. Sitting on my break at work surrounded by RUOK posters, but life is hard, posters don’t help, and neither does bringing crap to the workplace. Generally when people do offer help, they expect you to improve quickly with their help, otherwise they stop helping.

  • Hi Alex. It’s not hard to hate things and be cynical when you’re depressed, nor to fail to see the point of interventions like these. I’m sorry if your colleague was not prepared for your reality, but the next person to ask might be. I lost a friend to suicide and have had a year or two of wondering if I might join him. But I’m lucky that my circle of friends are practiced with depression (having lost more than one person to that black dog) and had no problem talking to me about it or checking in. It’s not that way for everyone though and it’s entirely possible that a great many people will have conversations that will save lives, because things like RUOK have made it more normal to do so. Maybe not your workplace, but somewhere.

  • This is an extract from an email I sent around to my team a few years ago on RUOK Day, which was then (with my permission) circulated throughout our organisation. The feedback I got from it was pretty incredible.

    This isn’t for everyone. One of the problems with asking people if they’re OK is that they may say ‘No, I’m not.’. This can be quite confronting for some people, and they may not know what to do. THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON! It is simply outside your area of experience. Remember, that by asking someone if they’re OK, you’re not offering to take on the role of their therapist. If you feel up to it, by all means listen to their problems, even offer advice. There are some tips for this here. If you don’t, try not to walk away or isolate the person. While the stigma of mental illness is not what it once was, too many people distance themselves from friends who have acknowledged that they’re sick because they don’t know what to do. Suggest they seek professional help – their GP is the best place to start. Then try to include them in things – social, professional, whatever – just as you did before you knew. If you ask me if I’m OK I might burst into tears. This isn’t a bad thing. I’m just really happy that you care. Just smile, give me a hug (or, as EEO policy suggests, pat me on the arm between the shoulder and the elbow) and carry on, knowing that you’ve really helped

  • I think before people go too much into the shortcomings of ‘R U OK Day’ they should pop over to the website and have a browse at the recommended approaches and tips and things to think about. Asking “R U OK” is just the first step. It’s also listening. It’s also exploring further if you think the person is just saying ‘OK’ without meaning it. It’s thinking ‘Am I the right person to ask this?’. If people glibly ask others in some sort of token sheep-mentality semi-joking manner, they’re not acting in the spirit of the day.

    Also, it’s not just a ‘day’. It’s a reminder to people that they should feel ok with asking this, and answering this, in a sincere and meaningful day *any day* of the year.

    R U OK? should be one of a thousand ways we say to each other ‘I’m not sure if there’s anything wrong, but we’re all in this together, and i’m someone who cares enough not to fake it or ignore it if I think something’s not right. If you don’t want to talk, that’s cool. But if you do, or you think you need help asking for help, that’s cool too’

    R U OK day may not be for you. Maybe find what works. But if it works for even one person, i’m proud to be part of it.

  • As a person dealing with fluctuating states of depression, how I am supposed to respond to this question from casual friends or acquaintances when my the people who I consider/ed my nearest and dearest haven’t been able to handle it?

    I applaud the concept, it’s far too casual for what could be a such a loaded response, and it’s really only asked by do-gooders who, as good intentioned as they are, tend to be the type that you don’t want invested in your personal business. That, and the wider insincerity around the question just makes me want to hide.

    TL;DR – “I’m fine.”

  • Sorry to hear that. Sincerely that is exactly why I say nothing when asked, Instead I make flippant excuse as to why I looked so worried or tired or whatever the signal I gave off was. No company wants the liability. Even without that you do not want your work associates to treat you differently. it only makes matters worse.

  • So how do you deal with the sudden desire to step onto the bitumen?

    For me its a case of recognising that this is my mind playing chicken with me. If I step out I lose. I then back this up with knowing that if I do, there are people who actually want me around and I am being selfish in having those thoughts.

    Lastly I have come to terms as best as one can, that I am going to have these thoughts. I am going to wake up thinking those thoughts. I am going to transition from catching the bus to stepping out in front of it for no apparent reason. Because I have accepted that I am better prepared to win the game and not be the chicken.

  • I think the problem is that there isn’t a one size fits all approach to depression and suicide. Some people cope with depression by ignoring it, pretending it is not happening and being in complete denial. A question like ‘Are you ok?’ can help them stop and take stock of the situation and realise that they need help.

    Then there’s other people who spend every waking thought and moment thinking about how they feel and how they can’t change how they feel and how horrible they feel and those are the kinds of people that questions like that in casual situations don’t help. They know they’re not ok, they don’t need reminders, they need to find ways to stop thinking so much and making themselves feel worse. I think the author is the latter kind of person and I can relate. When someone is working through something, often times they don’t need to focus on their negative feelings but allow themselves to move past them and get out of ‘the funk’.

    Maybe a better question is, ‘how are you?’ or ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘how’s it going?’ . It’s just a shame that most of these questions have just become phrases you say with no real meaning or intention, as I suspect ‘RU OK?’ is going to become without the support and change in attitudes the author talks about.

  • I would really like to add something to this discussion. I want to start by saying I agree with @AlexWalker. I also disagree.
    Let me explain. I am the parent of a teenager with a mental ilness. He’s not depressed per se, and isn’t suicidal. But he is incapable of reasoning. He deliberately isolates himself from family and society in general. He has mild delusions and obsessive behaviours/thoughts. He is also prone to flying in to a rage over what are minor disagreements. Recently he assaulted my wife and I, requiring us to call the police, for the second time. He takes anti psychotic medication and anti depressants to control his mood and lessen the severity of the obsessions and delusions. They are significant dosages that seriously affect him so they have to be taken at night.
    My son is getting all the help he needs. He’s consulting a doctor (psychiatrist) weekly and we are doing everything in our power to make his life manageable.
    And there is the problem. The emotional and psychological effort that this situation requires of us is immense.
    Both my wife and I have had to get assistance from mental health professionals as a result. This only began out of someone asking me if I was ok. I wasn’t. I mean, I’m not.
    We have two small children at home as well that are exposed to his behaviour and outbursts. We feel totally impotent in relation to preventing them from being exposed to it. Most of the time it feels like I’m failing as a dad not being able to control the situation in my own house.

    Someone asked me if I was ok. I’m not. But I know I’m not alone in this battle we have with our son’s illness. People care and want to know I’m looking after myself, because if I lose the ability to cope, my whole family falls apart.

  • I imagine the idea isn’t that you ask random coworkers or other people with who you don’t have the right relationship for this to work, but you ask family members and friends with who you could actually help. Nor do I think its a problem to lie if you really don’t want to talk about it with that specific person, but maybe that’s the push you need to seek help elsewhere.

    But more broadly speaking, I do agree with the criticisms noted here, though the problem isn’t the event so much as the attitude people have to these issues.

  • there is a thing called reflective listening.
    Just listen to them, you don’t have to have answers.
    My early mistake was to try and come up with answers as if it’s an engineering problem.
    But they see a therapist for answers.
    It doesn’t have to be about their condition, they may talk about the weekend, or holidays.

  • Just think of it in a different way, the question “How was your day?” is asked everyday with naive understanding what they are really asking, they treat it like a greeting as a shallow pleasantry (sometimes even scripted as part of a customer service role) but its a loaded question.

    People ask the question “How was your day?” don’t want a real answer, and many times the person asking it is not equipped to handle a dramatic response and just wants you to answer “Okay!”… and its trained people to just say that even when they are distressed, having a specific day seems dangerous.

    After all it would be awkward to tell the Coles checkout operator “I thought I was fine today but when I was walking across the railroad bridge I wondered if anyone would miss me”… “uummm Do you have a flybys card?”

    So to have a specific day where people just flat out ask a deep question like “RUOKay” fishing for a real answer, when you just want to respond with the platitude “Okay” is just gut wrenching and can make people feel worse, especially if the person who is asking you is really not someone your comfortable talking with as they push for answer… after all, they wouldn’t be asking you “RUOkay” if they didn’t think it, or are they just doing it cause a day told them too. Right?

    If anything it should be a day to strongly promote services like Employee Assistance Programs, Helpline, Kids Helpline and other social services. Rather than water cooler physchology.

  • I use an email address with okay in it to try and convince myself that I am. I keep going around and around in circles trying to deal with my own regrets and guilt. I have no reason to not be okay other than mistakes I made trying to find myself. I’ve spent a few nights in mental health units and spent lots of psychologists but nothing is making me better. I still feel like no-one would care of I ended it all. Then this is adding to my guilt.

    I hated the ruok presentation they did at work. I’m sure me jumping off the balcony would not be what they expected

  • I think I understand, but seems to me as though you could have articulated it better. The problem is not with the question. In fact, the problem only appears when your answer to that question is met with unpreparedness or even with just the fact that there’s not a real answer. But the point of the question is not to “solve” anything. It is simply a way of saying “I’m here and I care enough to listen if you want to talk”.

    Maybe this campaign could use being shown along with that episode of Parks & Recreation were Chris learns that all what Ann needed from him was to listen to the things that make her frustrated or sad and say “that sucks”, as opposed as trying to find a solution for every little inconvenient.

  • This is a copy/paste from an email chat I was having with a mate about this yesterday:

    I guess my problem with the RUOK thing is that it’s risky. It’s risky to expose your weaknesses to anyone other than a really close friend or family member. Revealing to a colleague, or god forbid, a manager (for example) that you, say, struggle with depression or whatever means you risk being seen as unreliable, or unstable. The other problem I have is that it’s encouraging people to ask the sort of question that can lead quickly into territory best handled by a shrink. I mean, how’s the layperson expected to carry on a conversation when the answer to the RUOK question involves real problems? I dunno. I get the intent of it I just think it’s superficial and potentially dangerous.

    If a work colleague or manager asked me that question, I’d never, ever, not in a million bajillion years answer with anything other than “fine thanks”. Because the alternative is “it’s none of your business”.

    As someone who struggles with mental issues there’s no way in hell I’d ever answer the RUOK question honestly.

  • Getting in on this topic a little late, but here’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

    I should preface this by saying that I’m a medical professional, so that likely colours my view somewhat, however I don’t see a problem with untrained individuals asking the question.

    The recipient may not want to open up, and yet they might. I don’t think untrained people should necessarily be giving advice unless they know what they’re doing, but even just listening (and definitely not EVER judging) can be very helpful. And as mentioned by another commenter above, the person’s GP is always a good starting point. 99% of the time, the people you are dealing with are not acutely suicidal, and someone who listens and cares, even if they can’t help directly, is helpful.

  • I think RUOK is poorly executed by the fact that most work places nowadays have an Employee Assistance scheme.

    Where I work we got a 4 paragraph email, and in small italics at the bottom was the Employee Assistance programs contact details… why is the professional service a damn foot note.

    If they have such a program, they should encourage its use and avoid encouraging staff to invade the private lives of their colleagues in an abrasive, casual, untrained, and liable manner in asking “RUOK”. When the first priority should be advising staff that if you need help use the resources they provide.

    Seriously I am walking on egg shells today, I had a doctors appointment this morning (so I was late to work), got blood tests scheduled and I have to pretend to be super happy about it, cause if I show any sign of negative emotion some happy-go-lucky staffer will pounce and ask the dumbest question.

  • This article has made me worried about myself. I thought we’ve all experience days where work really sucked, or we might have had a shitty interaction with another person, or we didn’t do as well with a project as we would have liked, and as I’m driving home I think to myself, what if I swerved to the right into oncoming traffic…. and then I listen to Dory and just keep driving, just keep driving, driving, driving, driving…

  • I’m kind of torn on this issue, on one hand I’m no stranger to mental health issues and suicidal ideations, but on the other hand I can see the article writer’s point of view, having one day where it’s suddenly acceptable for random workmates to ask what is a deeply personal question if answered honestly is quite bizarre and invites superficial and dishonest answers.

    Ironically, the kind of workmate who you would actually answer honestly to are the kind that make the effort to get to know you as a person throughout the entire year, and would ask the question whenever they thought it might be necessary. I’ve had a handful of colleagues like that over my career, and there’s a reason I’ve maintained those friendships since we’ve stopped working together. Ideally the R U OK concept should be preceded by building a strong relationship first, and go throughout the year. Whilst it’s great for shining a lens onto the very dark nature of suicide, there are probably more useful ways to encourage struggling employees (eg talking to a professional via their EAP).

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