Today is R U OK Day, and today we’re addressing a very special elephant in the room.

The RMH Occupational Therapist Gina here is very proud to present the picture book her older brother Ryan has created in honour of their father, who died by suicide.

Gina on R U OK Day
Gina, an Occupational Therapist at the RMH, holds a copy of Elegy for an Elephant.

Elegy for an Elephant is a picture book for children inspired by Gina and her family’s journey to repair and heal after losing their father through suicide.

With Ryan as the whale, her mother as a lion, Gina the dove and twin sister as a swallow, they set upon a journey to seek out their father’s soul, as they navigate through the sea of confusion and fear that grief brings.

Her brother Ryan said he made this book as he sees “a world where talking about suicide is ok,” and Gina is looking forward to using the book clinically to open up difficult conversations about suicide.

”This book will be a fantastic help for my patients' loved ones who are going through the shock of losing a family member to suicide,” Gina said.

”As an OT we always are looking for novel ways to help our patients and their families, and this is another tool I can add to my toolkit.”

For this R U OK Day, Gina says the best thing people can do is go beyond surface level questions and be able to ask direct, concrete questions that facilitate meaningful dialogue.

”We need to be okay with really sitting in the discomfort of asking difficult questions such as ‘are you thinking of harming yourself?’ and holding space for a friend, colleague or family member to really unpack their thoughts and feelings honestly,” she said.

”We’re really good at brushing off difficult responses to the question ‘are you ok?’, but really identifying that discomfort and allowing the other person to talk will help create a richer conversation, that will hopefully lead to change.”

Elegy for an Elephant is out now. An art exhibition of the book is now open until 23 September at Brightspace Gallery in St Kilda.

For more information on where to buy the book, and the exhibition, visit Narratives of Nature.

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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