General News — 13 September 2012

Australians are being encouraged to reach out to their loved ones, friends and colleagues and check on their wellbeing as part of R U OK? Day.

Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler encouraged people with a friend or family member who may need help to ask a simple question today.

“Three little words — are you okay? — can make all the difference to somebody,” Mr Butler said.

“Simply making that initial connection can help to save the life of a friend, a workmate or a family member.”

“Suicide devastates families and communities, and we need to work hard to raise awareness of suicide risk, to help those at risk of taking their own lives and those bereaved by suicide.”

“Slowly but surely, we are helping to remove the stigma from mental illness, making it easier for people to reply — no, actually I’m not okay.”

This year’s R U OK? Day has focused on telling real-life stories, developing a wider range of promotional material, and producing TV and radio commercials with Australian celebrities.

Earlier in the week Mr Butler announced new funding to two important suicide prevention and bereavement projects.

“On Monday I announced funding for Wesley Lifeforce to double the size of a program that helps communities develop suicide prevention strategies, improve access to services and support people at risk of suicide.”

“And yesterday I announced funding for the StandBy Suicide Bereavement Response Service which now offers 24-hour face-to-face support to those bereaved by suicide and provides training for frontline emergency services in the community.”

These projects are funded under the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and existing National Suicide Prevention Program which together deliver $292.8 million funding (from 2011-2016) for practical suicide prevention activity.

For more information, please contact the minister’s office on 02 6277 7280


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