Off the Record

An avoided topic worthy of discussion

A campaign that began six years ago to help a friend overcome attempted suicide has sprung to international levels as an intervention program.

'To Write Love on her Arms' was started in Melbourne, Australia, but quickly spread from actually writing love on your arms to promote awareness suicide and mental illness, to popular bands sporting t-shirts with a statement.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The organization works to inform, inspire and directly invest into treatment and recovery for affected individuals.

Have you ever felt so alone in your personal situations? Like no one was listening. The truth is, life is really hard for most people, most of the time. It's not all sunshine and roses.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week.

For the past 38 years, the American Foundation of Suicidology has held National Suicide Prevention Week in September. And since 2002, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has called Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day. During the past ten years, research has found that suicide is preventable.

There are so many organizations out there ready to assist and help with these issues.

Earlier this week, those supporting the cause focused Monday to "World Suicide Prevention Day."

Tuesday was focused towards changing mental health stigmas.

My biggest pet-peeve is, at least in our country, mental illness such as depression and other thoughts that cause one to harm themselves is extremely under-diagnosed.

It's something that many do not understand and, thus, it goes unnoticed or even worse, is labeled as a flaw and a weakness.

Today, Wednesday, is dedicated to remembering those we've lost.

The sad truth is almost everyone knows of someone who has succumbed to suicide. I remember hearing about a good friend of mine from high school who was lost to suicide. I lost touch with him several years before.

Though I hadn't talked with him in a while, I remember feeling shocked, confused and a little bit upset with myself. Though playing the blame game wouldn't help, I do wish there were more active programs out there to promote awareness for depressive thoughts.

Today, I choose to remember the lessons of life I learned from my friend Pedro. We took karate together, and we also participated on the local swim team together. He was extremely talented and athletic. He was funny, and just an all-around cool kid. Though we weren't the best of friends, I'm still feeling at a loss and I miss him.

It's the kind of loss you never get closure from. It's the kind of loss you want to help prevent for anyone in the future.

Thursday and Friday of this week are to be dedicated to promoting community and hope. Those are the two things that I believe are lost the most in efforts of suicide prevention.

Some people who threaten suicide are labeled as wanting attention.

Remembering the fact that a community of friends, family and loved ones are there for you, no matter what, may be a comforting thought. So, before you go accusing someone of attention-mongering, why not try a subtle approach of inviting the individual to more outings, or out for coffee?

People surrounded with those that love them are sure to eventually begin to feel they aren't alone.

In my view, community brings hope. Hope never just drops in your lap, it is nurtured and cultivated by those around you, and most of all, if you're seeking it.

Now to those who struggle with depression and thoughts of aloneness: You aren't alone.

We all feel that way at some point in our life. Some look to God, some look to family and some look to friends. But the real key is to look, and you may just find what you're looking for.

To Write Love on Her Arms suggests actually writing love across your forearm in remembrance of National Suicide Prevention Week.

For my own personal journey to constantly remember those who have suffered in silence, I have vowed to permanently write love on my arms.

I'm a world traveler, a nomad and a culture connoisseur. That means I love to travel and explore different cultures.

I have vowed to tattoo the world "love" in the national language of each country I visit. It's my daily reminder that I, too, can either help or hurt a situation.


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