The music community, and especially the rock community, has become inextricably tied to the mental health conversation in America. And it’s a time when that conversation is more urgent than ever before: the suicide rate in the United States has risen 25% in the last 20 years. That tragic number has been felt in losses of rock icons Chester Bennington, Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Jill Janus.
As we mark 2018’s Word Suicide Prevention Day at the start of National Suicide Prevention week, TWLOHA‘s music and events coordinator Elizabeth Wilder took some time to share about this year’s campaign and the unique role music has to play.
Can you share a little bit about the idea behind this year’s World Suicide Prevention Campaign theme, “Tomorrow Needs You?”
Every year we come together and brainstorm different World Suicide Prevention Day slogans. In past years, we have pulled from books and blogs and quotes from people who have had close ties with To Write Love on Her Arms. Finding the perfect slogan or theme is all about connecting with an audience. What is going to draw people in? What is going to get people thinking? And more importantly, what will engage people?
“Tomorrow Needs You” hit us and it stuck. It’s an opportunity to allow people to look forward, to see the future and know that it’s bright. We hope that this phrase can let people know that they’re never walking alone.
A really fun moment that has set this year’s campaign apart from years past has been the raffle of the signed soccer jerseys. How did that come to be, and what impact has it had on TWLOHA’s overall aim for this year’s fundraising?
Jamie, our founder, and Ashlyn Harris actually went to the same high school, so the connection has always been there even before she became a soccer icon. Jamie reconnected with Ashlyn a few years ago, and she has always been a big supporter of To Write Love on Her Arms’ mission. We’ve been able to witness the support of the soccer community grow every year, and we’re so grateful for the friendship we’ve been able to nurture. Jamie attended the USA vs. Chile game, where Ashlyn Harris, Christen Press, Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan all graciously donated their jerseys to raise money for our WSPD campaign.
The response has been incredible. In about a week, we have raised over $30,000 through raffle tickets. We raised our overall goal to $50,000 because of the engagement it had received. We’re so humbled by the ongoing support, and the multitude of opportunities we’ve been able to share with these women.
TWLOHA has done the difficult, valuable, complex work of enduring as a non-profit for over a decade now. What are some of the ways that TWLOHA’s approach has grown and developed over the years?
It’s really interesting to think about how our approach has grown over the past 12 years. I think it’s all about meeting people halfway, wherever that may be. Whether it’s at a music festival, in a school, or at a yoga event, we want people to feel welcome and heard. We’ve learned that mental health does not discriminate. It impacts all walks of life, and we want to be able to feel comfortable enough to share their story. Our mission is to reach as many people as we can, however we can.
The mission of TWLOHA has always been tied to the music community. What makes music a natural fit for the conversations TWLOHA wants to foster?
At To Write Love on Her Arms we always like to say, “Music is a safe place.” We go to concerts to drop the heavy at the door and get lost in our favorite bands/artists. Being able to act as a bridge of hope and help to people in the music scene feels, like you said, a natural fit. We want to connect with people the same way they connect to music. It’s a unique platform that can reach a lot of hurting people. From the beginning we have had such strong support from the music community, and we can only hope that continues over the next few years.
How can music fans specifically engage in supporting the work TWLOHA is doing?
We make it really simple for people to get involved and support TWLOHA’s mission. We encourage people to take a look at our Get Involved page to see how you can bring a message of hope and help to your community. Whether it’s purchasing info cards to hang up in venues and coffeeshops or getting educated, everything helps to start a healthy conversation about mental health. Music fans specifically can host a benefit, which a is a night of song and poetry, to raise awareness and support TWLOHA. We’ve witnessed so many stories shared, and so much vulnerability at events likes these.
What is a good shortlist of resources for those who are struggling or know someone who is struggling?
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, we encourage you to check out TWLOHA’s Find Help page. We have resources in all 50 states, and 3 different countries. If you’re in immediate crisis please don’t hesitate to text TWLOHA to 741741, Crisis Text Line, you’ll be automatically connected to a trained crisis counselor. We want you to know that you’re not alone, that your story is important, and that help and hope are real.