EDITORIAL: Time to start saying what’s not OK, more often
WHEN we think of online bullies, we often picture bratty teens belting away at the keyboard.
Some of the worst offenders however left the schoolyard long ago.
It makes his willingness to speak candidly about suicidal depression, and how it's possible to come out the other side, all the more inspiring.
He was always going to cop it from keyboard warriors.
This brave step however, which will be taken by many local leaders in the coming days and weeks, should be acknowledged with more than a share or like on social media.
Those who read it (and write about it for that matter) must speak up when people try to twist potentially lifesaving conversations in a region with some of the highest suicide rates in this country, into something they are not.
People in high profile positions should of course never be shielded from criticism but there is a big difference between calling for transparency or debating points as we in a free society should and viciously pursuing a person purely because you don't like a decision they have made or what you perceive to be their brand of politics.
You can disagree with someone without destroying them.
In this industry, we have long accepted relentless criticism goes with the job.
You've got to be able to get as good as you give - when you are holding people to account, expect the same in return.
A thick skin is essential even when people are begging for your blood and speaking to you and about you in ways you wouldn't wish on anyone other than evil dictators and sex offenders.
Ironically, some of the more vile commentary comes from those who appear to be fanatical about mental health support on other platforms.
This can be pretty hard to take when you're sitting in a hospital bed being treated for exhaustion and an anxiety attack which masqueraded as heart trouble and your phone keeps beeping.
You reach through the monitor cords to open it in case it's breaking news or a loved one checking in.
Instead, it's just another series of messages spewing hate and wanting you to 'spontaneously ignite' because they tried to click on your story and came up against a paywall.
You are told to hang your head in shame and asked for the umpteenth time that week "How do you sleep at night?"
Thankfully, good people in a small but precious circle have always been there to remind there are no medals for trying to make it through the resilience Olympics on your own.
This is team sport territory.
Normally 'silent' supporters also spoke out along the way - perhaps not levelling the playing field but still teaching a valuable lesson: Asking people if they are OK might be a great first step but it's not enough.
What we also need is more people willing to start calling out their perpetrator peers and saying 'That's not OK'.
Let this week's R U Ok? day be the day our community commits to enforcing the latter.
If you need help, phone Lifeline 24 hours on 13 11 14.