R U OK Day - A Question Could Save A Life - 96five Family Radio

R U OK Day – A Question Could Save A Life

Ian 'Watto' Watson is well known around the country with his ministry to men Shed Night. On R U OK Day he shares how Shed was born out of a friends suicide.

By Justin RouillonWednesday 11 Sep 2019Health and WellbeingReading Time: 3 minutes

96five supports R U OK Day and encourages everyone to ask their loved ones this simple question.

If you are struggling or this story raises issues please reach out to Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14.

Ian Watson or Watto as he’s more affectionately known is well known around the country with his men’s ministry Shed Night.

Watto at the launch of his latest book ‘Can We Talk?’

The ministry is all about men connecting with each other, and although the meetings take place in a shed Watto is quick to point out that there’s more in the name.

“Shed Night is about shedding something from deep within the heart and soul of a man.”

“He’s in a safe, non-judgemental place, and a place where he can be trusted.  Every man has a story, and you can’t argue with his story.”

A Response to Tragedy

Although Shed Night has now spread all over the country, the ministry was birthed out of a simple desire in response to a tragedy.

In 1997 Watto lost one of his church mates Greg Polinski to suicide.  Speaking with 96five ahead of R U OK Day, Watto told 96five that Greg didn’t know how to share what he was going through with those around him.

“He sadly took his life because we couldn’t talk – we didn’t know how.  So that has been a major driver behind Shed.  We want to help men tell their story in a supportive environment without judgement.”

Chad Polinski & Ian Watson. The death of Chad’s father was the driving force behind Shed Night.

Watto is also passionate about the bonds and connection that have formed between men who’ve been involved in the ministry over the past 17 years.

“Connection is key – communication is important but connection is vital.  Plenty of people communicate but few connect.  We can’t be isolated from each other, connection touches people’s hearts.”


Suicide Prevention Australia echo these sentiments with CEO Nieves Murray saying that while government can prioritise programs, everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.

“It is a national tragedy that we lose so many people to suicide. We can all make a difference in the lives of those who might be struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life’s ups and downs. Working together to prevent suicide, raise awareness and encourage conversations is important,” said Ms Murray.

Nieves Murray is the Suicide Prevention Australia CEO.

You don’t need to be medical professional to check in with someone you are worried about, you just need to be a good friend and a great listener.

R U OK have put together a list to help identify some of the signs that someone may be struggling with life on their website.

The organisation also have some simple steps about how to ask the question, listen and also how to take action.

If you do just one thing today, reach out to someone with a simple question – are you OK?  You never know, you might just save someone’s life.