Are you okay?

Today is R U OK? Day.  My family and I might share a joke and ask each other “Are you OK?” “But are you really?” – yet beneath the wisecracks lay lingering ghosts.

When I was a teenager my parents lost a close friend to suicide.  It was the first funeral I’d attended and the first time I saw both my parents cry.  I couldn’t understand why the priest never mentioned how she died.  I was incredulous in my teenage naivety.

Now RUOK?Day conjures other ghosts.  The ones who survived but left behind scars.  Two days of life support and people pacing rooms that didn’t look human.  While the confronting visual reminders began to fade – bills were paid, children were bathed, the grass was mowed and tiles were scrubbed.  “Everything will be orderly” – except that it wasn’t.  Not everything endures trauma.  Marriages break down and life, well it changes.

RUOK?Day is four people from my husband’s year level in high school – a municipality highlighted on 4Corners this week.  It’s the friend from work’s grandfather, my cousin’s friend’s sister, my favourite neighbour’s thirteen year old granddaughter.  It’s not only a day to open dialogue and keep connected – for me it’s also memories.  It’s removing social stigma, it’s acknowledging what others have endured and it’s pushing for more mental health funding.   What does it mean to you?

Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 if you are in need of immediate assistance or need to talk to someone you trust.



  1. Mumabulous says

    Absolutely. The stigma must be removed from mental health issues and more funding pumped into mental health care. My cousin’s young teenage son took his own life some years back. He was a popular and vibrant young man with a bright future ahead of him. The reasons behind his actions remain a mystery but I am sure if he had spoken about what was troubling him, he’d be living a happy productive life today. It was such a tragic waste. Anything that can be done to prevent other families experiencing such a devastating loss should be done.
    Many Thanks

  2. says

    Nice post Carlie. There are so many questions that are left behind when somebody takes their life, and their ghosts certainly do remain to haunt us. If only we can find a way to connect with people earlier, when it’s needed, so that they don’t feel alone. I wrote a story about this for R U OK? day – it’s a bit dark, but hopefully the point carries:

  3. Kim | Melbourne Mum says

    Love this post. It’s remarkable how many people are touched by suicide. It’s only ever been on my periphery thank god, but it’s all around us. And you’re right, there is still such social stigma around mental illness. That in itself is not OK.

  4. Deb_BrightandPrecious says

    Yes Carli, I get this feeling that mental health isn’t valued as a community/society. And this is reflected in government funding. So sad to hear that your life has been touched by suicides. It’s a tragedy in itself but also affects the people left behind.

  5. Sharron says

    I watched that documentary, sad and food for thought. For RU OK is a reminder that we should all just be trying to look out for those people closest to us and the wider community. Thought provoking post, thank you for sharing

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