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Suicide is not painless

Jason Turner/Staff

Jason Turner/Staff

Jason Turner, Staff

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September has been Suicide Awareness month. There were events all over the country, especially during the week of Sept. 11-15. Due to Hurricane Irma, the event scheduled on the Plant City campus got postponed to Sept. 20, but they were still able to host it. The SGA invited students to take “Love Your Selfies” while learning about the widespread suicide problem.         

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 800,000 people die from suicide every year, with many more    making an attempt. This summer saw some high profile suicides. Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell died just two weeks after performing in Tampa, while Chester Bennigton of Linkin Park took his own life shortly before his band was to play at the Fairgrounds.

An organization founded to help people who cope with depression and suicidal thoughts is To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). Founded by Jamie Tworkowski in 2006, TWLOHA is a Melbourne-based nonprofit organization. Their mission address depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide and give support to people who need it. 

TWLOHA travels to talk to people at music and sporting events, conferences and schools. This summer, they traveled with a few music festivals, including Welcome to Jacksonville, Carolina Rebellion and Van’s Warped Tour. Members of the organization sat down to talk during this summer’s Warped Tour stop in St. Petersburg.

The organization started when a friend of Tworkowski wanted to get treatment for depression and self-harm, but she had fresh wounds on her arms. Tworkowski took care of her for a while until she could be admitted somewhere.  

He then decided to start making and selling shirts to help pay for people to get professional help. He noticed that a lot of people in the punk and pop-punk scene were wearing the shirts and advertising his organization. From there, he started getting involved at concerts and festivals where receptive audiences could learn about TWLOHA.

At the tour stops, people are encouraged to participate in R.S.V.P. That is a program where people can write a message of encouragement that will be carried to other stops, where someone else can read and take the message. The purpose is to “encourage conversations and let people know their stories are important.”

It has been found that people will read what someone else says and be uplifted. Many write about what they had gone through and let others know that there is hope. Some people just write about their current struggles as a form of release and to feel connected to someone else.

All kinds of people visit the TWLOHA booth. Some go thinking it is a band, some are young people suffering from depression or who had gone through it, and some are parents who have children previously or currently suffered. Those working the booth say it is about a 50/50 mix of people who are familiar with TWLOHA and those who are not.

Money raised through T-shirt and merchandise sales goes to reach as many people as possible and can be found at twloha.com. There are some upcoming events in Florida where TWLOHA will attend. Their current campaign is “Stay.Find out what you were made for.” They have created a video, which can be seen at twloha.com/iwasmadefor.

TWLOHA stresses they are not licensed to offer treatment, but encourage everyone to get the help needed. They offer support in listening and sharing, which is another important aspect of healing.

 

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Suicide is not painless