Friends Ask Friends: Are U OK? Thu 13 September 2012 Michelle O'Byrne Minister for Health The Minister for Health, Michelle O'Byrne, today encouraged Tasmanians to reach out on national R U OK?Day to help support people at risk of suicide. "We should all regard talking to our friends and family about suicide as normal and positive because a few words can make a big difference," Ms O'Byrne said. "It is about being prepared to listen and directing friends, family and colleagues at risk to where they can find the help they need. "There is no single cause of suicide but in many cases it can be prevented and we can all play a part." R U OK?Day is the national day of action dedicated to helping reduce Australia's suicide rate. It was launched in Australian Parliament in 2009 by the late Gavin Larkin OAM whose own father took his life in in 1995. Ms O'Byrne said R U OK?Day was about listening to people and also letting them know it is alright to speak up if they are not feeling ok. "Go somewhere private, listen without judgement, don't rush to solve problems for them and encourage them to seek help. "Even a small step like seeing a doctor or visiting a counselling and support service can make a huge difference. "If you yourself are struggling, sharing your problem out loud can really help." Ms O'Byrne said the State Government recently announced that Relationships Australia (Tasmania) had been appointed to deliver a range of new suicide prevention strategies across the State. "That includes a new Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network to ensure all Tasmanians with an interest in suicide prevention can work together to help people at risk. "I am confident the partnership with Relationships Australia will strengthen community-led action, which lies at the heart of our Suicide Prevention Strategy." Ms O'Byrne said Relationships Australia will also deliver the annual Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Life Awards and Forum as well as mapping suicide prevention, intervention and postvention services and developing Tasmania's first Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) Suicide Prevention Action Plan. If you need immediate assistance or support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Mental Health Helpline on 1800 332 388. For further information about mental health and suicide contact the SANE Australia helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or www.sane.org or www.lifeline.org.au or talk to your local GP, health professional or someone you trust.