Valentine’s Day inspires great emotion in hearts across the country. For some, it’s a day of immense happiness, love professed, proposals made- a day where new and old love becomes bright and alive, rekindled with passion and romance. For others, it’s a day of sadness, broken hearts, love lost- a sore reminder of being alone. For those already struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide, Valentine’s Day can truly “suck.” But, not anymore…
To Write Love on Her Arms hosted their 2nd Annual “Valentines Doesn’t Have to Suck (Again)” yesterday. A live chat support room for those struggling with the day, TWLOHA helped people worldwide feel connected to others also feeling alone. In these moments of trial and challenge, connection is what our souls crave most. Kudos to TWLOHA for making that possible.
Although November 13th is the official, “To Write Love on Her Arms” Day, anytime you need to be reminded of why we stay alive, join “Love is the Movement” by writing “Love” on your arm. Spread the word… share the message of hope and recovery.
Love… it’s the reason we stay alive.
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. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The vision is that we actually believe these things…
You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.
You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen. We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change.
Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.
The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.
-121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (The World Health Organization)
-18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
-Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General’s Survey, 1999)
-Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30 percent of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)
-2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)
According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, with approximately 121 million people suffering with depression worldwide. The National Institute of Mental Health states that approximately 18 million people suffer from depression in America alone. Depression does not discriminate across age, race, gender, or class. Among teenagers it is estimated that 20 percent will suffer from depression at some point by the time they reach adulthood. There are also as many as 8.3 percent of teens suffering from depression for at least a year at a time, compared to 5.3 percent of the general population.
The stigma associated with addiction is one of the greatest challenges to recovery. Each year only 10 percent of Americans who need alcohol and drug treatment get the help they need. Yet with treatment and support, people with addiction can lead productive lives.
The Addiction Project has benefited from contributions by the leading experts in the field of addiction. Throughout this website you will find original articles written by experts featured in the Addiction series and more.
While not always the case, often untreated depression and other struggles lead to unhealthy ways in which we try and deal with the hurt and pain we are feeling. We try and find anything that we can do to take away the hurt, painful feelings, or negative thoughts we are experiencing. Often the things that we turn to seem to help at first, appearing to provide some of the relief that we need so badly. But, even though they may seem like they help, often they are unhealthy themselves, eventually becoming even greater struggles like addictions such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or self-injury.
Self-injury remained very much a mystery until 1996 when Princess Diana revealed that she had struggled with it. It has become much more visible in society within the last ten years. Self-injury is also termed self-mutilation, self-harm, or self-abuse. It can be defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self, including but not limited to;
3)picking or interfering with wound healing,
5)punching/hitting self or
6)inserting objects in to skin,
7)bruising or breaking bones, and
8)some forms of hair pulling.
While these behaviors pose serious risks, they may be symptoms of a problem that can be treated.
Experts estimate that 4% of the population struggle with self-injury. It has the same occurrence between males and females, even though in popular culture it can appear to be more prevalent among girls.
• Inability to understand or express feelings
• Past Abuse
Self-injury, like many addictions, is often a coping mechanism to deal with some manner of internal pain, many who struggle with it also struggle with other issues such as eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. While self-injury may be someone’s way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally NOT a suicide attempt, relief is always temporary, and usually only perpetuates a destructive cycle that continues the struggle. This cycle often means that those who do not get help can become more depressed and shameful, adding to the pain and need for relief, thus perpetuating the cycle.
The Dangers of Self-Injury - While self-injury may not be about attempting suicide, the damage done while harming oneself ALWAYS carries the risks of inflicting serious, and even lethal, harm to oneself regardless of whether suicide is intended or not. Also the continued cycle of addiction and self-harm, as in substance abuse and other eating disorders can have a destructive effect on one’s health both physically and mentally, and struggles worsen as time continues without treatment.
(SAFE alternatives – www.selfinjury.com)
Self-injury, like alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorders, is addictive, and thus not something that is easy to simply ‘stop’. However, while all addictions are very difficult to overcome, help and treatment are out there and available, and recovery and freedom are possible.We believe this is true whether someone’s struggles may be self injury, depression, drugs and alcohol, body image issues, sexual addiction, or other areas of brokenness.
Research shows that those who seek professional help and therapy have a very good chance of recovery, and finding relief from symptoms such as depression and anxiety as well as others. (APA, 1998)
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.
The WHO further reports that:
In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.
Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst elderly males, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of all countries.
Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.
However, suicide results from many complex sociocultural factors and is more likely to occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis (e.g. loss of a loved one, unemployment, sexual orientation, difficulties with developing one’s identity, disassociation from one’s community or other social/belief group, and honour).
The WHO also states that:
In Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, the highest suicide rates are reported for both men and women.
The Eastern Mediterranean Region and Central Asia republics have the lowest suicide rates.
Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China.
Suicides globally by age are as follows: 55% are aged between 15 to 44 years and 45% are aged 45 years and over.
Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate.
In the US, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention reports that:
Overall, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all US Americans, and is the third leading cause of death for young people 15-24 years.
Although suicide is a serious problem among the young and adults, death rates continue to be highest among older adults ages 65 years and over.
Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than are females. However, females are more likely to attempt suicide than are males.
Suicide within minority groups
Research indicates that suicide rates appear to be increasing within native and indigenous populations such as the Native Americans in the US and Alaska, and the Aborigines in Australia and New Zealand.
Suicide rates within migrant communities such as African and East Asian Americans or the Black British community are, also of growing concern. Statistics show a rise but in some countries it can be difficult to calculate. For example, in the UK the place of birth is recorded on the death certificate, not ethnicity, therefore reducing data on suicides amongst minority groups.
TWLOHA believes that rescue is possible, and are committed to communicating hope to others who know the daily struggle of living in a broken world.