Thursday, 12 September is R U OK? Day in Australia.
The R U OK? Mission is “to encourage and empower all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ to support those struggling with life”.
A few years ago (2010) I had the great privilege of speaking with Gavin Larkin about R U OK? Day after writing about my brother John.
It is thirty-one years since John took his own life. It still seems like a few seconds ago and an eternity away.
Ever since John’s death, I have been very concerned for athletes’ well being.
John played professional football before digital media, but, like all professional sportspeople, was subject to enormous scrutiny. Watching him deal with adulation, derision and aggression was a very important life lesson for me. Although four years younger than me, John was immensely world wise.
I remember one occasion in particular when he came home in a very bloody state. He had been walking home after meeting some friends when six people attacked him in our local town. When I asked why it had happened, John said it went with being a footballer. He recognised that some people were jealous and others just out for trouble. He hoped that occasionally it could be 1v1 to give him a fair chance but it never seemed to happen that way.
John is in my thoughts most days but I find R U OK? Day a particularly important marker in the year. I think it is a wonderful consciousness sharing opportunity. (As was Clarke Carlisle’s recent documentary, Football’s Suicide Secret.)
It is a day to think about John and all those hundreds of thousands of people who have taken their own lives in the last thirty-one years.
I trust this post finds you are OK wherever you read it.