Posts Tagged ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’

Depression Hides Until It’s Too Late

RobinWThe news of the passing of Robin Williams is only hours old, many are assuming suicide, and based on his previously disclosed history with addiction and depression, it would not be a shock. Depression, anxiety, self injury/cutting, to some extent eating disorders, and attempted or successful suicide are issues being dealt with every day by people right next to you. Perhaps you. Guaranteed those waters run in places you don’t expect.

To Write Love on Her Arms is an organization I’ve long admired, and not just for their brilliant name. They are 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 in treatment and recovery.

They have amazing resources to seek help and understanding, and they have some tremendous opportunities to get involved and volunteer, as well. From street teams to conferences to targeted outreach, there are ways to lend strength and understanding. We all need connection. There are times when the level of love and connection is not clearly seen or felt, no matter how full and robust it feels from those giving. Our correct course is to continue giving. Continue supporting. Continue loving. Continue respecting, even if someone, even someone dedicated to making others laugh, takes themselves from the game.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. I was touched to read of the rather candid and vulnerable mention made by TV star Wentworth Miller recently, who, because of hiding the fact that he is gay, has considered suicide more than once over the years. The “Prison Break” star said this weekend, at an event for the Human Rights Campaign,

“Growing up I was a target. Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way. Every day was a test and there were a thousand ways to fail, a thousand ways to betray yourself, to not live up to someone else’s standards of what was accepted, of what was normal. … The first time I tried to kill myself I was 15. I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house, and I swallowed a bottle of pills. I don’t remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school, pretending everything was fine. And when someone asks me if that was a cry for help, I’d say, ‘No.’ You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for. And I didn’t need it, I wanted out.”

Of course, people of all ages and all facets of life fit into the cross section of those who have attempted, successfully or not, taking their own lives. People, all of us, need to be able to talk and be heard. It is such a primal need, such a deep chunk of the foundation that has to be in place for us to build a life and face each day. We have to be heard. It means the rest of us, who are perhaps in better or just different places, MUST do the hearing. If someone can reach out to a family member, friend, teacher, spiritual leader, commanding officer, medical professional, trained hotline volunteer, or stranger anywhere–we have to be there, in the room or the other end of the line. There is always someone you can talk with.

Years ago, in the early days of the AIDS crisis, when I volunteered on an information hotline for AIDS Project Los Angeles, almost every call was of the variety of “Can I get it from kissing? From a doorknob? From a toilet seat? I did this action–was that safe?” with a few crank calls and giggly teens thrown into the mix on those long nights on the phone bank…until one night I had a suicide call. It gutted me emotionally, exhausted everything I had in me to keep the young man talking, eventually joking, while a colleague alerted supervisors. I’ll never know what became of that anonymous caller, but I went to bed late that night knowing that he was going to at least see the next morning, and, I suspect, with no intent of minimizing his fear and pain, he is probably still waking up each morning as, at least that night, he did not have an actual “plan.” He will never know who I am but he honored me with his story and his strength, when the last thing he would have considered himself was strong. He was/is fierce.

Many, however, do have plans, or unplanned extreme actions…and too many are successful who needn’t have gone down that road to its conclusion.

If you need to talk to someone–please do. If you are ever presented with the true honor of listening to someone who needs you to hear them–please do.

Some brilliant resources, doing incredible work in this arena:

The Trevor Project

To Write Love on Her Arms

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Hotlines (find one in your state/region–calls are toll-free, 24 hours)

From the World Suicide Prevention Day facebook page: Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is ok to ask some one are they feeling suicidal, it will not put ideas in their head, it will not push them towards suicide. It will show them that there is hope, that some one is there for them, let them know its ok to talk. If you are suicidal please reach out, you are not a burden, you are not worthless, use your voice, fight for the life you deserve. It is not easy but I can tell you it is worth it.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Talk about it. Really–that’s often all anyone has to do, open up communication. So many people who consider suicide get themselves spun so tightly inward that nothing outside of them can be seen. The bleakness takes over. It’s not just rosy and carefree, but having someone listen, and HEAR, can truly make a huge difference. There is a reason we have had suicide prevention hotlines for generations–talking matters.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Bring it up around the dinner table–be innocuous, be direct, but bring it up. Young people, especially, don’t recognize the resources that they have. Just reaching out can interrupt an uncontrolled spiral–and it can be done anonymously. Every single one of us should know how to direct someone to call and reach out via a hotline in our area, and national programs like To Write Love on Her Arms (, an entire list of helplines and resources is here), and The Trevor Project (, Toll-free Lifeline: 866-488-7386).

I’ve worked hotlines–while you are not hoping to hear pain on the other end of the line when you pick up the phone–you pray with every breath that somebody IS calling instead of not dialing and going through something alone. In a perfect world, nobody would call and you’d stare at the calls waiting, because your hotline services weren’t needed—unfortunately, in THIS world, you want the phone to ring because it means somebody wants to be heard, and is giving a stranger a chance to make a crucial difference.

Pick up the phone. Make sure your kids and friends know who to call. Think about volunteering in that capacity if it calls to you–your life will never be the same.

American Giving Awards

If you’re a facebooker, you’re probably well aware of the Chase Community Giving programs run by Chase Bank (and yes, I know you may have divested your money from Chase and other huge money empires, but this is one program that is worth some positive attention). They run cycles of voting for community-focused projects and non-profits, and like your favorite contest reality show, voters determine the winners of cash grants for the non-profits. On December 1, a new round of voting begins for five worthy finalist charities (to whom two million dollars in grants will be awarded). The finalists are: Let’s Get Ready, an organization that makes college accessible to low-income and first generation college-bound students. The Matthew Shepard Foundation, named for the hate-crime murder victim in Laramie, WY, seeks to erase hate, replace it with understanding and compassion, and encourage respect for human dignity. The mission of Move for Hunger is simple, they ask people to donate their non-perishable food items when moving and deliver this food to local food banks. To Write Love on Her Arms is a movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Wish Upon a Hero Foundation was formed after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, to raise funds and awareness in granting wishes for Americans in need.

Each is worthy of your votes, the monetary grants, and our continuing support. Saturday, December 10 at 8pm (7 Central), the winner will be announced on the American Giving Awards broadcast on NBC, hosted by Bob Costas.