As most of you know, I live in Australia. And today in Australia is R U OK Day. This is a day in which we’re supposed to all take the time to ask one another “Are you okay?” To raise awareness for suicide prevention, and all the things that go on inside of a person that, in our busy lives, often go unnoticed.
I bring this up because, today of all days, something happened. I’m very active on my social media channels, anyone whose stuck with me for a generous amount of time will know this. But today I stumbled across someone’s post. I didn’t know this person, I had never spoken to them before, they’re not even from the same country as me. But this is what they had posted:
“Can someone please try to talk me out of suicide? I want to do it, but I shouldn’t. I feel so alone right now.”
Now, I’m a ashamed to admit that my first reaction was to keep scrolling by. Not because I didn’t care, but because this world has made people pessimistic and dubious of everything they see, especially on social media. My first thought was that this person was making it up, that they were lying for attention. As I scrolled past though, a little voice nagged at the back of my mind. It asked me one very simple question.
What if this person wasn’t lying? What if they weren’t making up something horrible just for attention? What if this was a genuine plea for help? What if they had no one in their lives at all and calling out through social media was the only option they had?
I couldn’t live with the what if. So I scrolled back up to their post and I clicked ‘reply.’
Long story short, I quickly realized this poor girl was not making it up. She told me that she was utterly depressed, for numerous reasons that I won’t go into. I let her tell me whatever she felt comfortable sharing, I let her pour her heart out to me. I offered her some advice based on my own experiences and suggested that she get some professional help. I told her to always talk to people when she has those terrible thoughts. I was so concerned and moved by what she told me, I even told her to contact me again if she has no one else to talk to. When she had gotten everything off her chest and I had said everything I could think of to convince her life was worth living, that there was always hope, that even if things are at their worst that means they can only get better, I asked her one last, and very simple, question.
“Are you okay?”
She said she was, and I hope that was true. She thanked me for talking to her, and I wished her all the best.
I’m telling you all of this because of how important it is that we ask each other this question. No one should ever be alone, no one should ever feel the way that 17 year old girl felt. I hope that I helped her, just like I hope that the people in her life will help her, how I hope if any of you are in trouble or depressed, then there will be people to help you, too. In our world with rapidly expanding technologies and global media, it’s easy to become dubious of the things we see and hear. Pessimism is basically a natural human trait nowadays. I have only a single, simple request for anyone and everyone who reads this post.
Don’t look the other way. Don’t scroll past that concerning post. Don’t ignore that look in someone’s eye. People cry out for help every day, but we don’t hear them. So talk to your families, talk to your friends, talk to your coworkers, your neighbors; talk to complete strangers who are silently crying for help, and ask them that one very simple question:
“Are you okay?”