Campus group raises awareness about depression, suicide prevention

By Ellyn Newell

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people ages 18-24, according to The National Institute of Mental Health. A group on campus has formed in hopes of combating that harsh truth.

Students for To Write Love on Her Arms is an registered student organization established December 8, 2008. TWLOHA is a nonprofit organization created to give hope to those struggling with depression, suicide and self-injury, said Lindsay Bailey, president and founder of Students for TWLOHA and freshman in LAS.

“I just wanted to bring awareness to this campus,” Bailey said. “It’s something that people don’t always talk about.”

The organization’s major goal for the semester is to raise $3,500 to bring the founder of TWLOHA, Jamie Tworkowski, to speak on campus.

“There is a certain connection you get to the group only through hearing him speak,” said Karlea Trautman, treasurer and freshman in LAS. “He’s so inspirational. He really motivates people and gives them hope.”

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Hope is the foundation of the whole organization, said Jesse Janowski, junior in LAS. A few years ago, his brother told him about TWLOHA, and Janowski realized that he was dealing with some of these issues as well. After hearing about TWLOHA, he went to the Warped Tour in hopes of meeting the founder. Janowski and Tworkowski ended up spending the afternoon walking around and talking with each other.

“Jamie spent over two hours just hanging out with me,” said Janowski. “It was the most enlightening experience I have ever had.”

About a month ago, Janowski went to see Tworkowski speak once again in Royal Creek, Ill. It was a group of no more than 300 people. When he went up to reintroduce himself, Janowski said Tworkowski remembered his name and face right away.

“No words can explain how true he is to the issue,” said Janowski.

When Janowski arrived at the University, he got involved with the counseling center. Since Bailey started Students for TWLOHA, the two of them have been collaborating to bring the founder to campus. Their first fundraiser involved selling Crush cans on Valentine’s Day in Allen Hall. The event raised $145, doubling what they had expected to raise, said Jacob Porter, head fundraising coordinator and freshman in Business.

Porter said that although there are no concrete fundraisers yet, the group plans on hosting an event at Canopy Club, having bake sales on the Quad, and potentially selling shirts. He understands that it will be challenging to raise money on a college campus, especially with the state of the economy, but he thinks that it is important to get the message of hope out there.

“It’s hard to read the signs of depression,” said Porter. “But it’s important that people out there don’t feel like they are alone.”

Students for TWLOHA want to fly in Tworkowski by October of next year. Bailey said she really hopes that the campus can join around a common goal of giving support to those who are in need of it.

“It could be your best friend or your roommate,” said Bailey. “Because you can’t always tell who it’s affecting, you really just need to be there for them. This organization does that.”