BUSINESSES and community groups in Ararat will throw their support behind RUOK Day this week.
The recently formed Ararat Suicide Prevention and Awareness Group has been the driving force behind Thursday’s efforts.
Spokeswoman Linda Nyikos said it was important people in the community felt comfortable talking about how they were feeling.
“Everyday should be RUOK Day, but it’s a day that highlights getting that message out there,” she said.
“It’s about getting people to start the conversation and it should be an easy conversation to have.
“You shouldn’t be afraid to ask people close to you if they are okay, because we want to reduce that stigma around the question.”
The group was established with assistance from Wesley Lifeforce in order to assist local agencies continue to provide training and support in mental health first aid.
Mrs Nyikos said the group launched in July with various community representatives showing their support as members.
“Wesley Lifeforce came to Ararat because it was identified as an area of high incidents of suicide,” she said.
“I personally got involved because I lost my husband to suicide and I’ve had my own personal issues as well.”
Vines Cafe, Sede Cafe, Deb's Diner, Fred & Bet's, Waacks Bakery, Baker's Brew, Ararat RSL and Chalambar Golf Club will all participate in Thursday’s awareness day.
The Rotary club will run a sausage sizzle outside Something Beautiful from 11am to 1.30pm.
Mrs Nyikos said she had been overwhelmed by the support of the Ararat businesses that were approached to be part of RUOK day.
“We have been lucky enough to get the support of all the cafes in the main street that we’ve approached,” she said.
“The response of everyone we approached was that they would do whatever they could to help.”
There will balloons throughout town on the day as well as conversation cards and special serviettes.
Members of the group will be set up outside of the Bendigo Bank to sell merchandise, while donation tins will be placed around the city.
She said items were designed to get people thinking about having conversations.
“It should be a very easy conversation to have,” she said.
“People should not be afraid to ask the question – especially if you notice something changing with those close to them.
“Then people also become more willing to speak out.”
- If you, or someone you know, needs help call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.