When it comes to the story of TWLOHA, there have been some big weeks and bright moments over the years. We were given a full-page ad in USA Today. We turned that into a note of encouragement, delivered to millions across the country we call home. It surprised a lot of people when TWLOHA was nominated for MTV’s Good Woodie Award in 2009, a small non-profit up against a group of superstars. It surprised a lot of people when we won. The first-ever American Giving Awards gave us the biggest night in our history, when we won $1,000,000 on national television. It allowed us to take HEAVY AND LIGHT to cities across America.
What do all those things have in common, beyond the excitement of those moments? You made them happen. Your support. Your passion. Your votes and your voice.
Today is the last day of National Suicide Prevention Week, and i know i speak for our team when i say that this last week belongs on that list of the brightest moments in our history. That said, there was something different about this week, something that sets it apart from the things i mentioned at the start. In those memorable moments from our past, we stood on someone else’s stage. USA Today and MTV and NBC. This week, we stood on thousands of smaller stages. You shared yours, and you stood with us. This week, all of our voices came together to talk about things that usually live in silence. This week, we told the people around us that they matter. This week, we told ourselves.
It happened in tweets and posts and photos. It was info cards in coffee shops and posters stuck to dorm room doors. It was thousands of us all across the planet on World Suicide Prevention Day, wearing the same white shirt, a bright face anonymous to say that we’re the same, a simple phrase at the heart of it all, and the hope folks might believe: “No one else can play your part.”
We’ve been referring to this whole thing as a campaign. It seemed accurate to call it our “campaign” for World Suicide Prevention Day, and National Suicide Prevention Week. A friend asked me today, “What exactly are you campaigning for?” The question surprised me and it took a second to answer.
“We’re campaigning for people to be honest and get help and stay alive.”
That was my answer. And it doesn’t end tonight. It doesn’t stop at midnight with the close of National Suicide Prevention Week. i don’t know about you, but this week has me excited for the future. NSPW has reminded me what’s possible when people come together around one idea, using whatever platforms and gifts and creativity that they have. The evidence is undeniable: If you haven’t already, take a look at #NoOneElse14 and #WSPD14 and #NSPW14, on both Instagram and Twitter. You’ll see passion. You’ll see honesty and creativity. You’ll see people inviting other people to believe other things.
Perhaps more than anything else, our goal is conversations. It’s people talking to other people about their pain. It’s people finding hope and strength and encouragement in the community around them. It’s someone who is struggling, talking to a counselor, beginning the process of healing. It’s someone walking into a treatment center. It’s a call to a suicide hotline – someone choosing to stay alive, and choosing not to be alone.
None of this ends tonight. National Suicide Prevention Week was a taste. It was a start. We keep going and we go together. We lean on people and we invite people to lean on us. We ask honest questions and we give honest answers. We ask for help, because we know that it’s okay to ask for help.
Above all else, we choose to stay. We choose to fight the darkness and the sadness, to fight the questions and the lies and the myth of all that’s missing. We choose to stay, because we are stories still going. Because there is still some time for things to turn around, time for surprises and for change. We stay because no one else can play our part.
Life is worth living.
We’ll see you tomorrow.
What Comes Next?
Get involved with TWLOHA.
By popular demand, our No One Else Can Play Your Part shirts are now available for purchase on their own. Also, we are very close to our goal of raising $60,000 for treatment and recovery. We would love your help in getting there. Fundraising pages will remain open after tonight.
There are a variety of other ways you can support suicide prevention efforts through TWLOHA. We have some smaller-scale opportunities to help that are accessible to many ages and backgrounds, including our Street Team and Supporter Benefit events. You can also bring our high school campaign, The Storytellers, to your school or host a MOVE: FOCUS workshop in your city.
Volunteer for Crisis Text Line.
If you are looking to get involved in a powerful, tangible way, consider volunteering for Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 free texting hotline for youth. Since launching last year, Crisis Text Line has exchanged more than 3 million messages with young people in need. You can find out more about Crisis Text Line here or go here to become a volunteer.
Learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Programs.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention aims to bring people together to understand and prevent suicide and to help heal the pain it causes. Their website lists many different ways to cope with suicide, including a city-specific support group finder, a way to contact their Survivor Outreach Program, and a guide for how to find a grief counselor. Not only that, but this November 22nd they’ll host events all over the world for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which recognizes those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Find free resources at SAMHSA.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has several completely free resources about mental health available. You can order their Suicide Prevention Lifeline wallet cards and other brochures in bulk, at no cost to you. These are great resources to have at high schools, college campuses, conferences, and any public place where people gather.
Beyond the list above, there are many more ways to get involved in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Reach out in your local community. Encourage others to be open to talking about these important issues. Be accepting, supportive, and compassionate. One of the most common things we hear from people who message us is how afraid they are to tell someone about their depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, or self-injury. They live in fear that they will be rejected, ruin their relationships, and never see change. Be a safe place for someone to come to share his or her story—and be proud to share your own.