To celebrate R U OK Day which is coming up on 8th September, we thought that everyone whould know the four steps in asking if someone in need is okay. These steps are everything we need to have a meaningful conversation to support a mate in distress or has suicidal thought. But before starting, make sure that you are ready and pick a right moment to approach them.
Help them open up by asking questions like “How you going?” or mention specific things that have made you concerned like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently. How are you going?”
Listen what they say seriously and without judgement. Never interrupt or rush the conversation, be patient with the silence if they need some time. Encourage them to explain by asking “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
Show that you’ve listened by checking that you’ve understood. If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally.
Help them think about one or two things to better manage the situation. Ask “How would you like me to support you?” If you’ve found a particular strategy or health service useful, share it with them. If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or other professional. Be positive about the role of professionals, but understand that it may take a bit of time to find the right one.
4. Follow Up
Call them in a couple of weeks or sooner if they’re really struggling. Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment. Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
There are two responses that you might get when approaching someone in distress:
- If they deny the problem, avoid confrontation or critising, just tell them that you care and will be there for them when they want to talk.
- If they’re thinking about suicide, don’t get angry or agitated. Ask if they’ve begun to take steps to end their life. Explain that thoughts of suicide are common and don’t have to be acted upon. If they don’t talk about suicide, you still have to take it seriously.
More articles on My Health Career:
- Is online therapy as good as talking face-to-face with a clinician?
- Are you really listening? A view from the other side. By Gitte Backhausen – patient
- What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
- Researchers found the association between management following self-harm and suicide