Sunday marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week 2013. In honor of this occasion, a newly developed club, To Write Love on her Arms (TWLOHA), has planned different events and ways to raise awareness and support for the cause.
For those who are unaware, TWLOHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, and raises awareness for suicide prevention in general. It is a group that comes together in hopes of being a bridge for people to get the help they need.
TWLOHA is a university chapter that sophomore Leah Rolando has been trying to get rolling since she started her freshmen year at ISU. Rolando is a social work major and one of the proud founders of the RSO.
According to Rolando, forming the university chapter here at ISU was quite the process. It took extensive communication with students, faculty and administration, and by doing so the support for the movement grew tremendously. Networks and connections were then created with people in the organization who believed in the hope for better lives for individuals struggling with different afflictions which helped further the process along to get the group to where it is now.
As a university chapter, Rolando says they now have access to resources that will help connect people with healthy ways to be vulnerable, build relationships with one another, express themselves and reach out when they are struggling with something.
“The thing is, no one expects the ‘happy’ people to struggle with things such as depression or self-injury, but we’ve all felt pain. TWLOHA presents the concept of ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ and proves that no one is ever alone in anything they go through,” Rolando said about the inspiration for starting the RSO on campus.
The RSO has also formed a commitment pledge to ISU. In this, they have promised to be a beacon of hope to ISU students by raising awareness of mental health through events, workshops, training and outreach. They aim to break stigmas, spark conversations, and end the silence surrounding issues of brokenness such as depression, addiction, self-injury, suicide and general mental health struggles, and will be a support system for those in need.
Though this club is focused on suicide prevention and getting the help you need for any struggles with mental health, it is strongly emphasized that it is not a form of group therapy, nor are any of the leaders professional counselors.
“We are students who are willing to support one another, help each other get the help they need, and serve as a voice of hope throughout our Illinois State community,” Rolando said.
With such a powerful message, TWLOHA meets each week to think of new ways to spread the love and raise awareness. At 7 p.m. every Wednesday on the third floor East Lounge of the Bone Student Center, the university chapter will meet.
Some meetings will be for planning workshops and events. Other meetings will have a theme, such as anxiety or depression. In these meetings, a guest speaker from Student Counseling Services will be present to answer questions or provide resources, facts and myths about the topic. This will be an opportunity for students to find out how they can receive help or provide help for others in actual or suspected need.
The semester just began and Rolando is already excited about the authenticity and genuine nature of the group. She went on to say that after just the first meeting she envisions the movement to be a success.
“As a university chapter, we will define our success not by numbers, but by our ability to stay true to the mission and vision of TWLOHA by being ambassadors of hope, love, acceptance and encouraged healing,” Rolando said.