I Found Therapy Through Music

By Robin FomusaOctober 29, 2018

On October 23, 2007, my best friend at the time called me and said four words that I will never forget: “Hilary died at five.” I don’t remember much else about that phone call, just tears. She was only 16, and one of the sweetest, funniest people I have ever met.

Hilary’s death was a turning point in my life. I had struggled with depression, OCD, and anxiety for most of my existence, but I was afraid to tell anyone, except my mom, about it. I worried what other people might think of me. But when Hilary died by suicide, I realized I had to push past that worry and speak up. I wasn’t going to let another friend hurt in silence and shame the way she did. So, I started talking about it. I slowly told my friends about my struggles and was met with their acceptance. They were unbelievably understanding, so why was I so fearful? I soon realized that I was not alone. There were millions of people who felt like me, who felt like Hilary did. So many people holding it all in to avoid the possibility of being judged or misunderstood.

Losing Hilary was by far the hardest thing I’d ever experienced in my life, and still is to this day. Being surrounded by supportive family and friends was a big part of what allowed me to make it through, but beyond that, I found therapy through music. No matter what, no matter when, music showed up. It was through my love of music that I learned about TWLOHA for the first time, thanks to a few of my favorite pop-punk bands in high school. In an instant, it become an organization close to my heart, combining the two of the things I found myself most passionate about: suicide prevention and music.

At sixteen, it became a dream of mine to host a suicide prevention benefit concert, using music to heal and bring awareness to something that’s seen as taboo. Fast forward 10 years and I was working in the music industry in Nashville. On February 2, 2017, a local police officer, Officer Mumaw, responded to a call of a woman attempting suicide. In the process of saving her life, his was lost. The city of Nashville was devastated. That’s when my boss texted me and suggested we make my dream into a reality. Soon, the lineup was set and I was in contact with TWLOHA seeking their guidance and the beginnings of our collaboration for “Live. Life. Love. Concert for Suicide Prevention.”

On March 3, 2017, we hosted the very first concert that raised thousands of dollars for hope and help. That night was emotional for me. I was terrified it would be a failure, but it wasn’t. I cried at the realization that one of my biggest dreams had come to light and I was able to do something that in a way, honored Hillary, Officer Mumaw, and all of  those people struggling with mental illness.

We’re getting ready to host our second annual show. This year, we’re partnering with artists like Why Don’t We, Dan + Shay, Lauv, and Kim Petras. And while music is key to this event, it’s the message that’s most important. The message that hope is real and it’s OK to not be OK. Whether or not the show sells out, if we reach one person with those words, we can consider it a success. Letting people know that they are not alone in their struggles is what this is all about.

This year’s event will be held at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN, on December 10, 2018. Tickets are sold out, but you can follow 107.5 The River on Instagram and Twitter for a chance to win!

Leave a Reply

Comments (4)

  1. Rachelle St Phard

    December 10th is my son’s birthday. He would have been 21. He died by suicide in 2016. My daughter is a singer/songwriter. (YouTube.com/kyle rstphard) If there were any way to get her on stage that night, it would be an awesome way to honor her brother.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hello Rachelle,

      We are heartbroken to hear about the loss of your son, and we want you to know that we mourn with you and your family. It is truly devastating to lose a loved one to suicide.

      We love the idea of your daughter using her musical talent to honor her brother. We are working with a local radio station, and unfortunately, the spots for musical acts for the night have already been filled. Please do not let this discourage your daughter though. If she would like, she could look into hosting a Supporters Benefit in honor of her brother. A Supporters Benefit will allow her to spread TWLOHA’s message of hope while also helping to raise money for our mission. If this is something you believe she would be interested in, she can take a look at our Get Involved page. This will explain more about a Supporters Benefit, and it will lead her to fill out the Supporters Benefit survey. If you or her have any questions about the Supporters Benefit or would just like someone to talk, please email us at info@twloha.com. We would be happy to speak to both of you.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  2. Marta

    Thank you for your story. It actually inspired me. My best friend died to suicide two years ago. I am still struggling but in the good moments I dream about helping others who might be falling apart and not asking for help.

    Congratulations for your work, your contribution and for getting your dream done. And again, thanks for sharing!

    Reply  |  
  3. Nicole Elliott

    Thank you for sharing your story Robin. It’s not an easy one to share. I have a very similar story, I lost a dear friend in high school from mental illness and it was tragic. Actually, tragic isn’t even a good word for it. The pain of losing someone close to suicide is such a sharp and unforgiving experience with no warning and no answers. It took me years to talk about Brian. I tried to think of our time shared together being more of an amazing dream or movie I saw once but can’t remember it all to well or when I saw it. I turned to music as well. I was too ashamed to speak about this pain and guilt I carried with me. That’s where I discovered TWLOHA, who could have helped Brian and later me as well dealing with my own monsters. I’ve been playing with the idea of participating in the suicide prevention and mental health awareness clubs at my college and hopefully get the internship with TWLOHA this summer. I feel like I have an awesome story to share with others but how do I deliver it in a way it’ll be impactful to my audience (other college students). Have you found others like myself that have many similarities in the story you shared? Would I be making an impact sharing my story with my community? Thank you for taking the time to read my comment. Hope to hear back from you soon.

    Reply  |  
Get Email Updates

Sign up for our newsletter to hear updates from our team and how you can help share the message of hope and help.

Join our list