For the second consecutive year, suicide prevention charity R U OK? will show its support for Australia’s LGBTQI community at the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, on March 3.
Around 80 choreographed dancers, R U OK? staff and ambassadors, will march behind the R U OK? float – this year themed – ‘Listen with Love’.
The theme refers to the charity’s second step to starting a conversation with anyone you’re worried about. The steps are; 1 – Ask, 2 – Listen, 3 – Encourage action and 4 -Check in.
Celebrity ambassadors on the night will include singers Casey Donovan and Luke Antony, as well as actor/comedian Steven Oliver.
Nominated for a 2018 LGBTI Award in the Charity category, R U OK? is passionate about its ongoing commitment to a reduction in suicide rates within the LGBTQI community. Mardi Gras is one of the many ways the charity is attempting to impact above average statistics, via awareness and education.
CEO Brendan Maher said, ‘This is an event that brings the community together to celebrate strength, unity and diversity – things that make Australia great. What better platform to remind everyone of the importance to regularly check-in on your mates and loved ones?
‘We know LGBTQI youth suicide rates are up to five times higher than that of their peers. We want our presence at both Fair Day and Mardi Gras to be a visual reminder to look out for the signs that someone might be doing it tough,
‘We want people to learn the skills and have the confidence to know how to approach a mate or a loved one in a meaningful way’ he said.
The float will include 60 male and 20 female marchers from across Australia and as far away as Canada, some of whom will travel especially to be a part of the parade. Non-Sydney based marchers have been practicing their choreography from video’s taken at the twice weekly rehearsals held in Hyde Park.
The 2017 volunteer R U OK? float committee (who have all been touched by suicide) have stepped up again in 2018 to do it all again, but bigger and better and with more glitter. The committee, consisting of young Sydney businessmen and women, have worked tirelessly to coordinate both the float and dancers, to remind the LGBTQI community to ask, ‘Are you ok?’ not just on R U OK?Day, but all year round.
According to a 2016 study by the LGBTI Health Alliance;
- LGBTQI youth are five times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
- 16 per cent of LGBTQI youth have attempted suicide compared to 3.2 per cent of non-LGBTI youth in the same age bracket.
- 35 per cent of Transgender people 18+ have attempted suicide, while 45 per cent have considered it.
- 19 percent of Intersex people have attempted suicide directly because of their intersex status.