The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



To Write Love on Her Arms’

Jillian Barwick | Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest speaker Aaron Moore invited Saint Mary’s students to join the movement titled “To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA) in a speech Wednesday evening for National Suicide Prevention Week.

Maureen Parsons, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), introduced the night by giving the audience some background information on the organization.

“‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope to people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide,” Parsons said. “This movement began as the simple attempt to tell the story of a friend in need but gained quick attention over the Internet.”

TWLOHA has donated over one million dollars directly to treatment recovery, Parsons said.

“The organization has been featured on news outlets such as NBC, CBS and MTV,” she said. “Supported by bands such as Switchfoot, Anberlin and Paramore, TWLOHA has also grown quickly through the music community.”

Moore, a licensed mental health counselor with a master’s degree in counseling, works with adults and teenagers to help them find healing and recovery with the organization, he said.

“We are really excited to be here tonight,” Moore said. “This is a big week for our organization since it is National Suicide Prevention Week, something that is near and dear to our hearts.”

Before Moore’s talk got underway, he introduced a guitarist named Eric James, who treated the audience to a selection of songs from his band, The Last Royals.

“Our organization is a big fan of music,” Moore said. “We love having an opportunity to take a musician with us on the road. The act of music has played a huge role with TWLOHA.”

After James finished, Moore returned to the stage to give the audience more information about TWLOHA.

“Things that TWLOHA talks about are typically things that most people are uncomfortable talking about,” Moore said. “Being with TWLOHA for the past six years has really opened my eyes to many more things within the realm of suicide, depression and addiction.”

After reading a magazine one day, Moore said he found out about the organization and that it  happened to be located down the street from where he was working.

“I saw that the organization had been talking about suicide and it really hit home,” Moore said. “After getting in contact with Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of TWLOHA, I became involved with the organization.”

Tworkowski created TWLOHA when a friend of his needed treatment for her addiction, Moore said.

“Jamie wanted to tell his friend’s story and get these issues of addiction and self-injury out there,” he said. “TWLOHA was created by Jamie as a way to gain support for his friend in need.”

During his talk, Moore said talking about issues like depression, suicide, self-injury and addiction is one of the bigger challenges in life.

“Being honest in topics like this, we might feel as though there are complications to talking about our feelings,” he said. “We don’t want people to tell us that we are wrong feeling sad or depressed.”

Turing to the audience, Moore asked the group why it is so hard to talk about how we feel to our loved ones.

“It is so much easier to pretend it is not happening,” one audience member said. “Ignorance is bliss.”

Fear of rejection was another common answer among the listeners.

“People are afraid to go to someone and have them say, ‘Well that’s not important enough to be depressed about,'” another audience member said.

Moore addressed these responses, tying them back to TWLOHA and the organization’s key points.

“One of the worst lies that feeds the stigma about these issues is that if someone wants to commit suicide, then you cannot help them,” he said.

Society does not do well with issues like depression and recovery, he said.

“We only see these topics discussed in gossip magazines and blog sites,” Moore said. “Our society only sees these issues on reality television.”

Moore closed his address with reminding the audience that more people in the world suffer from the issues of depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide than most people think.

“At TWLOHA, we have learned that people need to be more aware about these issues and that by using the platform we have, people will learn,” he said. “I bet a lot of money that most of us can connect with the fears of being open about these issues in our lives. Our fears are very much like each other’s; we are far more similar than what we originally believed.”

Moore said communities should support people dealing with these issues.

“We believe that there is something powerful about a sense of community where sharing stories really helps others,” he said. “There is something really amazing when we get to know that our story actually matters to someone.”