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From Loneliness to Connection: The Power of Sharing, Listening and Checking-In

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Today is RUOK? National Day of Action.

For over 10 years this campaign has been highlighting issues associated with mental health, wellbeing and the importance of asking those around you “RUOK?”.... AND, knowing how to respond to the reply to encourage an ongoing conversation. The campaign’s focus is suicide prevention, with the strong message that “A Conversation Could Change a Life”.

The importance of the RUOK? campaign and the need for emphasis on prevention of suicide is evidenced by statistics that show:

  • Every year over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt. (1)

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 yrs of age. (2)

  • Around 75% of people who die by suicide are male, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people twice as likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous Australians. (2)

By connecting with others - offering time and space to chat, listening to and validating what someone has to say and checking-in on how they are doing - we can provide an opportunity to externalise experiences and deescalate the feelings of depression, anxiety and/or isolation. This may or may not include encouragement to seek professional therapeutic support. The crucial ingredient is - to be there, to listen without judgement or instruction but with compassion.

Loneliness can be a significant risk factor for depression and other mental health conditions. Feelings of loneliness are not necessarily related to being ‘alone’, as we can feel lonely in a room full of people. It is the absence of human connection that poses the risk to our wellbeing. The Loneliness Experiment by the British Broadcasting Corporation (3) found that participants defined their loneliness as:

  • Feeling disconnected from others.

  • Having no one to talk to.

  • Not feeling understood.

  • Feeling left out.

Instigating a conversation with a friend or family member by asking ‘Are You OK? and making time to follow up and check-in, can be the catalyst to changing experiences of disconnection/feeling misunderstood, and a step towards increasing genuine human connectedness.

To hear personal stories of the difference a conversation can make, or if you would like to find more information, tips and suggestions for instigating the conversation and maintaining connection with someone who may be struggling with their mental health, please explore the excellent resources available at

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or need crisis support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14


1. Black Dog Institute -

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018) Causes of Death’,

3. BBC Radio 4 (2018) The Loneliness Experiment

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