A simple question that can save a life

Published 9:26am 6 September 2022

A simple question that can save a life
Words by Jodie Powell

You don’t need to be an expert to help someone struggling with life - you just need to listen, according to R U OK Day ambassador and Redcliffe resident Martin Brooker.

Martin says simply asking “R U OK?” can change a life.

Several years ago, the Navy veteran was on his way to a country and western-themed party and kitted out in full cowboy gear when he and a mate stopped in at a pub for a drink along the way.

There was a man playing the piano and singing and as he finished, Martin felt compelled to ask him about the song.

“It was something he had composed for his daughter and I said ‘I’m a father of three girls’.

“He told me he hadn’t seen her for six months and then said was thinking about taking his own life.

“Although I was shocked, I didn’t want to alarm him – I wanted to make him feel comfortable and able to talk to me,” Martin recalls.

They chatted for a while and Martin made sure the man wouldn’t be alone that night.

He rang the man the next day, and he was doing better.

“I phoned the guy several years later and he had a good job and was about to go and pick up his daughter.

“What really got me is that there was a man, a father in that set of circumstances, and the risk that his daughter would grow up without a father.

|“It was worth the effort to ask if he was OK - it’s a conversation that can save a life.”|

Just listening can help

Martin says we don’t need to be a professional to have a conversation, it’s often just a simple human connection that can help.

“When we notice someone has something going on we need to have the courage, we don’t need to be an expert,” he says.

“You just need to be able to listen - it might just be what they need in that moment.

“We can then take that next step with connecting people to services.”

Martin says while R U OK Day on is a national day of action, every day is R U OK Day.

“It’s those meaningful moments of talking about life’s ups and downs and being genuinely interested in people and making the connection.”

R U OK Day is this Thursday, September 8. To find out more and download free resources about how to start a conversation, click here.

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