07:00 AM

RUOK? Day asks a simple question to help prevent suicide

Energetic music pumped through loudspeakers, tables were filled with free pizza and drinks, and dozens of students had some fun while delivering serious information about mental health and suicide.

The annual RUOK? Day was held Wednesday in the Ohio Union at The Ohio State University. Each March, students and advisers from the Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide organize RUOK? Day to encourage students, faculty and staff to start a conversation.

The goal is to think about people they know who may struggle with personal difficulties and ask if they are OK. Samantha Woodring, a third-year English major and co-president of the Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide, said the event makes an impact.

“I think there are a lot of people on campus that don’t know what exists for them resource-wise or they are afraid to go out and seek the help that they might need,” she said. “So having something like this where it’s very open, it’s very positive and everyone’s talking about it is incredibly helpful.”

Attendees to RUOK? Day were provided with resources and opportunities to pledge to ask a friend, co-worker or stranger, “Are you OK today?” Woodring said 30 organizations from across campus supported the event, showing broad support for mental health.

“It’s OK that you’re going through a rough time,” she said. “There are people here to help you and I think it’s pretty clear that there are a lot of people who are willing to do it.”

It’s OK that you’re going through a rough time. There are people here to help you and I think it’s pretty clear that there are a lot of people who are willing to do it.
Samantha Woodring, co-president of the Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide

Darcy Haag Granello, professor of counselor education and director of the Ohio State Suicide Prevention Program, said the event helps increase awareness in the community about suicide and the symptoms of suicidal thinking, and offers resources to those who might be at risk of suicide.

Granello said RUOK? Day predates the university’s recent Suicide and Mental Health Task Force, but it aids the mission of building a caring community at Ohio State. The task force report recommended continuing to build a “culture of care” on campus that finds ways to minimize psychological harm to students and encourages students, faculty and staff to look out for one another.

Student organizations from across the university filled the hall in the Ohio Union, each group tailoring a message of support to the students they serve.

Raghad Kodvawala, a fourth-year student majoring in biomedical engineering, staffed an information booth on behalf of the Muslim Students Association. She said the organization has had a booth at RUOK? Day for three years.

“It’s not really talked about in our community. There’s a bigger stigma in our community. So we just want to make sure we’re educating people about it,” Kodvawala said.

“If you’re not feeling OK, then make sure that you’re getting help. And don’t be afraid to talk to somebody about anything, about everything,” she said.

Granello said she wants people who attend the annual event to walk away with one simple piece of information: “A simple conversation can save a life.”

For help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/TALK (or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers). To reach someone at Ohio’s 24/7 Crisis Text Line, send 4HOPE to 741741.