He is not just a statistic, he was my brother.
Today is R U OK Day. It is a day that is close to my heart and one that I never thought would speak to me so strongly. To be honest, before I was affected by suicide, I thought that R U OK Day was a bit silly, I wondered why we would choose only one day of the year to ask someone if they were OK?
I know now that those three words could be the words that a suicidal person may need to hear. I wish that I had asked those those three words more often. But it can be hard to ask the question, especially when we know that it could open up a conversation that can be difficult to address. R U OK Day was developed by someone just like me, a person who had lost a loved one to suicide. It was Gavin Larkin’s grief after his father’s suicide that lead him to champion this one question ; R U OK?
R U OK Day’s mission is to inspire and empower people to meaningfully connect with those in their world and lend support when they are struggling with life.
My brother wasn’t OK. I knew that, and I had tried to reach out to him, but days turn into weeks, and he wasn’t talking about it. It’s not easy when families are unsure of the resources available to them. We didn’t know what to say. I will never forget the day after he was found, we were handed a pamphlet, it explained what the signs were, what we should look for. It was too late for us.
James was the youngest in our family, the only boy with three big sisters who adored him. He spent a lot of time acting tough, but he had a soft nature. He had a beautiful heart, it was generous and loving and his cheeky smile radiated a room. I miss him every day, and would give anything just to have him back.
James was a skilled carpenter and mentored many young builders, who often message me with stories of how much he taught them. Ironically at his funeral, his best mate spoke about James’s ritual on the jobsite, where he would get all the guys into a group hug and check in on them.
James was loved by many and left behind a devastated family, including a beautiful son. He had many friends. He just couldn’t see past his sadness.
Today and every day, lets check in on a mate or a loved one and ask them R U OK? Be prepared to listen. Times are not easy and many are struggling. Show kindness.
Fly high James. 1973-2018
If you need to talk you can also call the numbers below
Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
To help you ask the question, there are many resources at www.ruok.org.au