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It’s that time of the semester again. Assignment due dates are getting closer, the looming presence of exams is upon us and it can be a stressful time for everyone at university. Finding a balance between other commitments such a work, friends and relationships, studying can become a stressful and scary task.

Today, 8th September is national R U OKAY? Day and like many corporations, business’ and schools around the country are embracing the event, UTas joined in with a morning tea hosted at the Cradle Coast campus yesterday and a sausage sizzle at the Hobart campus today.

R U OK? Day is an annual event that encourages everyone to take the time to open a conversation by simply asking a loved one, a colleague, a friend or a stranger; ‘Are you okay?’.

On average, depression and anxiety affects over three million people in Australia, with a further 2500 Australians under the age of 45 proceeding to end their own lives every year.

Creating a safe environment for people to talk is a massive part of what the R U Okay? organisation strives to achieve.

According to their website, R U OKAY?’s vision is to create “a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.” They aim to connect people and support others who are struggling with issues in their personal life.

The campaign was founded by the late Gavin Larkin, who was inspired to create a selfless change in our society after the unfortunate loss of his father to suicide.

It was founded to encourage everyone to believe that it is okay to not be okay, to openly talk to someone about how you are feeling, and if you feel someone isn’t okay, simply ask them and create a conversation.

While today is the official R U OK? day, everyone is encouraged to start a conversation on any day.

“As a community and as individuals, we’re stronger together and it’s important that we make more time for the people we care about,” said R U OK? Campaign Director, Rebecca Lewis.

“Use today as an opportunity to start a conversation with someone you were once close to, as well as reach out to anyone you’re worried about. Then, make a commitment to be there for one another throughout the year.”

Suicide prevention starts from a simple conversation and you too can help by asking a friend, family member or classmate how they are feeling and listening to their response.

You can also post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag ‘#ruokday’ showing someone you care about or someone who has been there for you to talk to.

So if you see someone that is feeling down, don’t let depression and anxiety linger in the dark. Join the movement and start a conversation.

If you, or someone you know needs assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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