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To Write Love On Her Arms

IN THE September 8 ISSUE

FROM THE 2012 Articles,
andAshley Brandon,
andMental Health,
andTeens
SECTIONS

by Ashley Brandon

As we approach National Suicide Prevention Week September 9-15, and World Suicide Prevention Day September 10, we wanted to share some articles dealing with the issue of suicide and mental health. So we share with you this interview with To Write Love On Her Arms & an article by Muffy Walker of the International BiPolar Foundation about the stigma of mental illness & how suicide touched her life. Learn more about what you can do to make a difference during National Suicide Prevention Week and beyond, check out this website & the website for World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide. Scary word, right? Every year over 36,000 people take their own lives. Every 15 minutes someone commits suicide in the United States alone. That’s a little over one hundred people a day and that does not include failed attempts.

Depression is the major cause of suicide.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, depression causes more than sixty percent of all suicides. Depression has more victims than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Depression is the most treatable psychiatric illness; yet, two-thirds of people with depression don’t seek help. What if there was a way we could reach out and help?

Six years ago, Jamie Tworkowski found a way to reach out and help. His concern for a friend and small gestures might have saved his friend’s life. He is the founder of a wonderful movement that has picked up steam. To Write Love on Her Arms is an organization that reaches out to young people suffering from depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal tendencies.

Jamie Tworkowski

The following are some questions I submitted to this wonderful organization and I’d like to thank them for their quick response.

Ashley: Why and how did To Write Love On Her Arms get started?

TWLOHA: TWLOHA began in 2006 as an attempt to tell a story and a way to help a friend. Founder Jamie Tworkowski met Renee Yohe who was struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and had previously attempted suicide. Initially Renee was denied treatment because the facility did not have a detox center.

Jamie and his friends spent five days with Renee to help keep her sober so she could enter treatment. Those five days were the inspiration for the story, “To Write Love on Her Arms,” that Jamie wrote. It later became the name of the organization and was printed on shirts he made to help pay for Renee’s treatment. TWLOHA was never meant to be a nonprofit, but after seeing the incredible response to the story and the shirt from people all over Jamie decided to pursue TWLOHA full time.

Ashley: What does To Write Love On Her Arms specifically do?

TWLOHA: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

We fulfill our mission statement in a variety of ways. Our main programs are MOVE Community Conferences, University Chapters, and The Storytellers High School Campaign. We invest directly into treatment and recovery through donations to organizations, counseling scholarships and site visits to facilities and organizations that align with the work we do. We try to meet people where they are so we speak at colleges, schools and conferences all over the country throughout the year. We also have booths at multiple music festivals and tours.

Additionally, we are constantly bringing awareness to mental health because we want people to know that not only is it absolutely essential to talk about these issues, but it’s okay to as well.

Ashley: How can people reach out and get help?

TWLOHA: We encourage people to have honest conversations and talk to those they trust. People can reach out to friends, family or others in their community. They can contact organizations in their local community, call a hotline, look for help in their area through a variety of online resources. The first step is to talk to someone, anyone a person feels comfortable with. Our goal is for everyone to know hope and help are real and their life matters.

Ashley: How can people offer help?

TWLOHA: People can offer help in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as just asking someone, “How are you?,” and truly listening to their response, to providing someone struggling with resources and encouraging them to get help. We believe that talking about these issues is essential so we can change the stigma of mental health. If we can change that, then more people will feel empowered to get help.

Ashley: Are there any outreach partners or counselors in the Valley?

TWLOHA: We work with a variety of organizations on a national and local level. We have an extensive list of resources on our FIND HELP section that allows people to search for local help in their area or an area they may be traveling to. People can always contact national hotlines such as 1-800- SUICIDE or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.

What if we could make a simple gesture that just might save someone? What if we could just do something so small that they forget their plans to take their own lives? September 10, 2012 is the tenth anniversary of the World Suicide Prevention Day. Love is the movement, let’s make a move.

For more information about TWLOHA go to http://www.twloha.com/index.php.

Ashley Brandon is 14 years old and a freshman at Reedley High School. She enjoys playing guitar, writing and track and hopes to attend UCSF to become a psychologist. Ashley is an ongoing contributor to our Teen Talk.

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