Thursday 12 September marked R U OK? Day, a day dedicated to initiating meaningful conversations with family members or friends that may be struggling with life’s up and downs. This is a preventative approach in attempts at reducing Australia’s alarming rates of suicide that remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44. (1)
This year students at Al Siraat College from years five to year nine were invited to attend a lunchtime R U OK? Day Conversation Cafe.
The purpose of this was to raise awareness for this important cause and give students some basic skills on how to start a conversation with family and friends they may be concerned about.
Presentations were made by student ambassadors Maryam Jawad and Morgan Hussein from year 12, on ways that young people can approach their friends by asking appropriate questions, using non-judgemental language and touching base regularly.
Ms Huda Abdelkerim gave an insightful talk on what Islam teaches us about the sunnah of active listening, how even a smile is charity and the sunnah of visiting our sick friends, family and neighbours.
Interactive discussions were facilitated with the boys and girls of years 5 and 6 by teachers Sarah Naaman and Adam Sam’on, giving primary school-aged children an opportunity to reflect on ways they can support friends and family that may be struggling.
Hundreds of students participating in this presentation received cupcakes supplied by Lendlease. Community liaison for Lendlease, Clare Swanson supported several local schools in raising awareness of this important cause.
R U OK? Day Ambassador Tanya Kubitza stated “Let’s not wait for our family and friends to reach out to us and let’s be proactive in asking a simple question and actively listening to their response. It might save someone’s life.”
It is narrated that Prophet Mohammad (s) would face the person talking to him with his entire body in demonstration of active listening. We need to remember that it’s not just about asking the questions but also paying attention to the responses we receive and showing the person in front of us that we care.
…”Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him, we will return.” (Quran 2:156).