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Today is R U Ok? Day Australia and Saturday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day highlighting the effect suicide has on family, friends, colleagues and society at large.

Unfortunately, this year marks an occasion much too close to home. A few months ago, a friend of mine took his own life quite suddenly, plunging his immediate loved ones into a nightmare of grief and unanswered questions.  Even more recently, a friend of a friend and mother of her baby took her own life. The impact reaches far and wide perhaps more so than the person could have imagined.

There is no blame; just sadness and thoughts of what could I and my friends have said or done to have helped them feel better and to have given them hope for happiness in the future.

Today’s R U Ok Day encourages us to pause and genuinely ask a friend, colleague, family member or anyone if they are ok. Although we can’t make someone open up to us, we can at least let them know we care, are interested and remind them that even if we’re not the right person there will be others who they’ll feel more comfortable talking with.

A new national survey from R U OK? has revealed Australians spend an average of 46 hours of their weekly downtime looking at their TVs and digital devices, compared to an average of six hours engaging with family and friends.

The suicide prevention charity has also revealed that around half of Australians spend two hours or less of their weekly downtime connecting with the people who matter to them.

R U OK? Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis said the research has highlighted that we’re more intimately acquainted with our devices than the highs and lows of our families’ and friends’ lives.

“It’s a big wakeup call that we’re spending almost eight times the amount of hours looking at our screens compared to the time we spend engaging with the people who matter to us,” Rebecca said. “We all need to shift that balance and invest some of our screen time into our relationships and the people around us.”

I think it is important to remember that no matter how rock bottom you feel, your peers, friends and family may have or had similar thoughts. It’s Ok to admit there’s a problem and seek help for it. Your loved ones will be forever grateful you did.