Bendigo TAFE spreads message during national R U OK? Day

ASKING a simple question could save someone’s life.

That was the message being spread at Bendigo TAFE’s Charleston Road Campus yesterday during an R U OK? Day community morning tea.

The national day encouraged Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, “Are you OK?” in a bid to reduce our country’s high suicide rate.

Students and staff at TAFE feasted on cakes, muffins and other treats while they chatted to representatives from St Luke’s mental health team, Bendigo Community Health Services and Bendigo TAFE Student Support Services. 

Bendigo TAFE youth worker Tamara Kerkvliet said males were about four times more likely to die from suicide than females.

“R U OK? Day is a national suicide prevention and awareness day and we’re holding it particularly at this campus because we have a lot of young male students here and they’re at particularly high risk of suicide,” she said.

“We think it’s really important to get the message out to our students, young or old, that help is available.

“We’ve invited some local agencies along to help get the message out as well ... We’re encouraging everyone to ask their friends, their family, their colleagues, ‘Are you OK?’ and try and get conversation started which will hopefully catch any little problems before they become bigger.”

Ms Kerkvliet said hopefully people would be inspired to make the effort on a regular basis and not just on R U OK? Day.

“Isolation is a really big risk factor for suicide so it’s really important to get our students connected with each other and with their community and make sure that they are incorporating that message into their daily lives,” she said.

Ms Kerkvliet said signs someone was not coping could include changes in mood, eating and sleeping habits.

R U OK? Day initiatives also included a session about how to identify when a friend is in trouble and how to help them.

Bendigo TAFE student Richard Kellow, 17, played a game of pool and chatted with mates at yesterday’s morning tea.

“R U OK? Day is a good idea,” he said.

“People are becoming more aware of the need to talk about things. 

“Guys don’t talk about our feelings as much – we just keep it inside and if it gets too hard, keep going.

“So days like this are good to raise awareness.”

CHAT: Bendigo TAFE staff Jim Box, Felicity Williams and Jamie Eckett. Pictures: JIM ALDERSEY

CHAT: Bendigo TAFE staff Jim Box, Felicity Williams and Jamie Eckett. Pictures: JIM ALDERSEY