During National Suicide Prevention Week, Murray State welcomed Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of the To Write Love On Her Arms organization.
On Tuesday, students filled the Curris Center Ballroom to support the organization’s cause. At 7 p.m., Tworkowski’s lecture kicked off. Student Government Association sponsored the event with the help of the Campus Activities Board. Matt Mauschbaugh, junior from Edwardsville, Ill., and lectures chair for CAB welcomed everyone and introduced the speaker.
Tworkowski quickly enlightened the room with his “stand-up comedy” that he swore would not last all night.
“Did you guys know that you have a Cracker Barrel across the street from your stadium? If I was stuck between two schools, Cracker Barrel would be the deciding factor,” he joked.
Explaining later how music plays a big role in the organization, Tworkowski said it both spreads the word and gets feelings out in the open. Steven McMorran, from the band Satellite, entertained the audience with five songs in order to get those feelings out in the open.
When the music ended, Tworkowski began telling his story. It started with a different character, a friend who had been plagued by depression, addiction and self-injury. Tworkowski explained the need to help his friend, along with seeking treatment for her. Eventually, they began sharing the story via MySpace blogs until it grew to be the organization it is today.
The TWLOHA organization was created to present hope and aid those in need of treatment for depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The goal for the organization not only includes encouraging people all over the world to seek treatment, but also involves educating people about the growing issue of suicide.
According to the organization’s website, it also builds community. The group wants the world to get comfortable with community, where people reach out to one another, stop keeping secrets and build a support system to aid each other from recovery.
“The phrase ‘suicide prevention’ doesn’t move me,” Tworkowski said. “Suicide is people, real people. You never know what could save a life, but it’s important we go there and we try.”
According to the World Health Organization, the third leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 44 is suicide, but it is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, just behind vehicular accidents. These statistics do not include attempted suicides which are 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.
Somewhere in these statistics fall people who are close to someone: a friend, classmate or family member, who have had suicidical thoughts.
In an effort to form community at Murray, the lecture was intended to serve as an eye opener to the students who attended.
“We realize that the issue of suicide is relevant on all campuses, and Murray State is not an exception.” Mauschbaugh said. “This event will increase suicide awareness here at MSU and make us realize we can help these people.”
The TWLOHA organization has never been to Murray State before. Each year CAB comes together to discuss issues on campus and what they would like to see accomplished. This year, the rising suicide rate among college campuses specifically caught the attention of CAB.
“We try to bring in different speakers and groups year in and year out to promote different issues such as alcohol awareness and sex abuse,” Mauschbaugh said.
Considering this week is National Suicide Awareness Week, the event seemed like an appropriate opportunity to raise awareness on suicide.
“The lecture was very powerful,” Rebecca Allen, freshman from Murray, said. “I wish others would have heard this.”
For more information on TWLOHA, visit twloha.com.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Contributing writer.