According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the leading cause of suicide. Two-thirds of people struggling with depression never get help. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) has taken the initiative to change these numbers and open a conversation that discusses mental health and community.
To Write Love On Her Arms is a movement against suicide and self-harm. This includes substance abuse, mental illness, and physical self-harm. Their goal is to inform people about mental health issues.
TWLOHA was founded by Jamie Tworkowski in honor of his friend, Renee, who went through a very difficult time of depression and self-hatred. Her story can be found on the official TWLOHA website (www.twloha.com). Jamie and his friends supported Renee in her efforts to get better and became committed to helping other people as well.
I know that many people have been through tough times and have had bad experiences that haunt them, but many of them are afraid of what would happen if they outed their stories.
When I first joined TWLOHA, I was afraid to tell anyone what I had been through. I couldn’t tell my parents because I was afraid of how they would react. I couldn’t talk to a counselor because I didn’t want anyone to know I had something to hide. Finding TWLOHA changed my life; I was able to share my story in a community that I felt comfortable in and where other members shared their stories. There was no judging or criticising, only support and understanding.
I was able to communicate with other people who had been through similar situations and found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only person who had a story to tell. They shared their stories and gave me advice based on their personal experiences.
Whenever anyone posted anything negative about themselves, their post would soon be consumed by comments of support and positive thoughts. I have seen, on several occasions, how TWLOHA has prevented suicide attempts. On one particular occasion, someone had posted about how they hated their life and that they might be gone by morning. Instantly, members began commenting about what a wonderful person she was, how things can only get better, and many more reasons why she shouldn’t end her life. The next day, she thanked everyone for making her realize that she was about to do something awful and decided against committing suicide.
To Write Love On Her Arms travels around to raise awareness about mental health issues. They provide speakers for events promoting their cause and help people find the help they need. TWLOHA also sells promotional items so people are able to represent the cause.
There are currently no TWLOHA events scheduled in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. However, Leesville Road High School will be having a week on mental health and substance abuse from April 14 to April 18. There will be opportunities to learn about mental health and to share your fears and dreams throughout the week.
If you or a loved one needs help please contact the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255), the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4.A.CHILD (422-4453), the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (799-7233), the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656.HOPE (656-4673), The Trevor Project at 1-866-4.U.TREVOR (488-7386)or find help in your local area.