Are they really okay on R U OK? Day?

September 9, 2021 BY

Tony McManus and R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton.

NINE Australians each day lose their lives to suicide, which is more than double the death toll on our roads each year according to Lifeline, only emphasising the need to start a conversation by asking, “Are You Okay?”.

Today is ‘R U OK?’ Day, as has been the case every year on September 9 since 2009, with this year’s theme suitably named ‘Are they really okay?’.

Beyond Blue and R U OK? Day advocate Tony McManus is the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast regions’ ambassador having grown up in the Geelong area.

Mr McManus is a development manager at the Geelong Community Foundation and has been passionately promoting mental health mentoring via his Facebook page “ConnectTwoGrow”.

He has also successfully lobbied for the Geelong and Hawthorn football clubs to play annually for the AFL “Beyond Blue Cup” as a vehicle to promote awareness about and reduce stigma in the community about depression and has presented to the Western Bulldogs “Sons Of The West” Men’s Health Project.

Mr McManus tragically lost his brother Mick to suicide after he took his life in 2005, creating a real crossroads for Tony, with the former real estate agent going through the early stages of a “mid-life crisis”.

“At the time I was going through my own mental health issues, and I was suicidal at one stage too,” Mr McManus said.

“But once you get through that low point, you are pretty motivated to help other people.

“That’s why people like myself and other volunteer ambassadors to R U OK? are more than happy to share our stories because we know it helps other people know they are not alone.”

Mr McManus found R U OK?’s message very simple as it breaks down the four basic steps in how to gauge how someone is actually going.

First is asking the question itself, second is listening to someone’s response, third is pointing that person in the right direction, and last is encouraging action from that person.

Recently, however, there are many concerns arising that people are saying they are okay when they really are not according to Mr McManus, hence the necessity for this year’s theme.

“It’s a great way of elaborating on the original theme,” he said.

“It acknowledges that a lot of people, even though they are being asked the question, are replying that they are okay when they are really not.

“Always be firm in your line of inquiry.

“You are much better off offending someone by being a bit persistent in your inquiry, rather than having to sit down and resent a suicide by writing their eulogy if I can put it that way.”

Conversation tips, crisis support contacts, and much more can be found at ruok.org.au.

If you need immediate help, phone Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, headspace on 1800 650 890 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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