Suicide prevention organisation R U OK? will take their float to the streets during the 2020 Gay and Lesbian Sydney Mardi Gras Parade with over 60 marchers decorated with campaign catchphrase, ‘U Matter to Me’.

R U OK? wants to send a powerful message to the queer community, being present to check in and ask, ‘Are you okay?’.

The National LGBTI Alliance reports the community continues to experience a higher risk of suicidal behaviours than non-LGBTI people.

In the Indigenous community, First Nations people are:

  • 5 percent of LGBTIQ+ young people aged 16 to 27
  • 3 percent of LGBTIQ+ people aged 14 to 21
  • 4 percent of Trans and Gender Diverse young people aged 14 to 25
  • 3 percent of LGBTIQ+ people aged 16 and over
  • 3 percent of Trans and Gender Diverse people aged 18 and over.

Flying from Perth to Sydney to be part of the parade is R U OK? Ambassador and public figure, Brooke Blurton.

“As a bisexual woman and Yamatji Noongar woman, being here to champion R U OK?’s ‘U Matter to Me’ message is a proud and emotional moment,” Blurton said.

“We’ve lost far too many people from our beautiful diverse Australian community, and we all have a part to play in decreasing the statistics. It’s so important we let the people around us know we genuinely care and are truly here to listen.”

“A great place to start is asking ‘Are you okay? Because you matter to me’ when we spot the signs they might be struggling with life.”

R U OK? Ambassador Brooke Blurton will be on the R U OK? float this year. Photo supplied.

National LGBTI Health Alliance and R U OK? have partnered to celebrate community diversity. Mardi Gras marchers will include representatives from R U OK? partner organisations and community supporters, some of whom have been affected by suicide.

Craig Mack, R U OK? Community Ambassador and mental health advocate, will be on board the float. Mack believes the message ‘U Matter to Me’ will empower community.

“What matters to us? Our LGBTI friends, family and loved ones matter us. Their wellbeing matters to us. Ensuring they are supported, and they feel connected and protected from suicide matters to us,” Mack said.

“To show them how much they matter – we check in and start regular meaningful conversations. We learn how to ask, “Are you okay?” and respond with sensitivity and care if someone says, “No, I’m not okay”. We want this community to hear how much we support them and to know that we are genuinely here to listen.”

Not only will R U OK? be marching in the parade, they will have a ‘U Matter to Me’ online hub providing resources and sharing first-hand stories.

R U OK? will be positioned in C Block in the marshalling area prior to the parade start.

For more information, visit: www.ruok.org.au.

 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental ill-health, call or visit the online resources below:

 

By Rachael Knowles