Circle K welcomed the Keene State College community to their To Write Love On Her Arms [TWLOHA] event on Tuesday, Feb. 24 in hopes of spreading awareness of suicide, self-harm and mental health.
TWLOHA, as those familiar with the event call it, acts as a resource to inform and help people with mental health issues.
The website stated, “Two-thirds of people with depression do not seek treatment. We want to see that number change.”
It continued to read, “We believe that help is real and possible for everyone, and we hope education about mental health will open doors for those who are struggling to reach out and receive the help they deserve.”
The event at KSC, which was held in the Mabel Brown Room, offered a comfortable and friendly environment to those who attended, students said.
Circle K, the campus’ community service organization, provided food along with multiple free activities such as Zumba, raffles and henna tattoos.
The goal for the night, according to senior Miranda Hall, was to give members of the community a sense of belonging.
She explained that Circle K hosts the TWLOHA event every year.
“We like doing it because we know a lot of people out there might feel alone and a major reason people commit suicide or harm themselves is because they feel that way,” Hall said.
The non-profit movement, as stated on the TWLOHA website, is “dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.”
Junior and psychology major Shayna Gibson noted a big reason Circle K keeps putting on the event is because of the positive response the college saw when the founder of TWLOHA, Jamie Tworkowski, visited KSC two years ago.
She explained, “I think a lot of people were touched by [Tworkowski’s] presentation here a couple of years ago.”
“I bet a lot of them found a sense of belonging,” Gibson explained.
Gibson said after she attended Tworkowski’s event she spread the message of TWOLHA to her friends — one of whom had been self-harming.
“He loved everything about [TWLOHA], it helped him see he wasn’t alone,” she said.
Samantha Kalanta, a junior and elementary education and psychology major, said she was required to attend the event for a class.
“I also went because [a friend and member of Circle K] told me about all the cool things activities happening there, so I figured I would check it out,” she noted.
Previous to the event, Kalanta shared she only had heard about TWLOHA but did not know much about it.
She shared that the counseling center’s table at the event taught her some of the signs that a friend might be struggling with mental health issues or self-harm and how to handle it.
Kalanta also stated that although she had some suicide prevention training in one of her psychology classes, Circle K’s TWLOHA event encouraged her to further spread awareness.
“The training and the event helped me realize how big of an issue things like suicide and self-harm have become and how simple it can be to prevent it,” she said.
Both Hall and Gibson said they felt not enough students are aware of TWLOHA and their message.
“It’s such a great organization that helps people realize that they’re not alone — that’s why we have the ‘Fears vs. Dreams’ campaign wall,” Gibson explained.
The Fears vs. Dreams wall, one of the offered activities of the night, allowed attendees to anonymously write a fear and a dream on a sheet of paper and display it for others to see.
Hall and Gibson both viewed the wall to be vital in helping students connect to one another.
“We do Fears vs. Dreams because it lets everyone know that they’re not alone; you might have a fear or a dream that somebody else has,” Hall explained. According to the website, the wall also helps students remind themselves that, “Despite how much fears may weigh us down, they make us who we are and shouldn’t keep us from reaching our dreams.”
“You have that support and connection here at Keene State [College] and that’s what we want to get across,” Hall said.
If any student is, or knows someone who is, struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm or thoughts of suicide they are encouraged to visit the KSC Counseling Center, located on the third floor of the Elliot Center.
Claire Hickey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org