There’s a lot of good things about living and working outside Australia’s bigger towns and cities, but it also has its unique challenges. Fewer services, isolation and extreme weather events are just a few of the things that can be harder to deal with out here.
- If someone you know – a family member, friend, neighbour or workmate – is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you.
- Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “are you ok?”.
- By asking and listening, we can help our mates and others we care about feel more supported and connected long before they even think about suicide.
- It’s something we can all do by following a few simple steps.
Spotting the problem
Sometimes the cause of someone’s struggle is something obvious and affects everyone in the community like a drought, flood or bushfire. More often it’s something personal like financial worries or the breakdown of a relationship. But while the signs can sometimes be subtle and very hard to spot, there can be clues that someone’s not doing so well. When somebody stops answering and returning calls, for example, or when they don’t turn up to a BBQ or you just don’t see them much anymore. You might just have a gut feeling that something’s not quite right.
Don’t ignore it. Find some time to ask if they’re ok.
Starting the conversation with someone you’re worried about
- If they don’t live with you, find a reason to go and see them. Borrow something, return something, give them something, just drop in
to see how they’re going. Ask if they can come over and give you a hand with something.
- Pick your moment. If they can’t talk when you approach them, ask for a better time to come back.
- Have a relaxed and friendly approach.
- Let them know you’ve noticed a change. Make an observation:
- “I haven’t seen much of you lately, is everything going ok?”
- “We missed you at the last meeting, how are things going?”
- “So how are you travelling these days?”
Listening to their story
- Be prepared to listen – not try and solve their problems.
- Have an open mind.
- Don’t rush or interrupt. Let them speak in their own time.
- Let them know you’re asking because you’re concerned:
“I’m worried about you”
“Sometimes talking about it can really help”
“Why don’t you start from the beginning, I’ll make us a cuppa”