“Words create worlds.”

By Lindsay KolschMarch 27, 2023

“Words create worlds.”

I don’t know where I heard this said, and an internet search offered an inconclusive answer, but when the statement entered my brain it felt so true that I haven’t stopped thinking about it: words create worlds. 

I’ve had the privilege of working with TWLOHA since 2009, and as we celebrate our upcoming 17th birthday as an organization, it felt as though those words described something fundamental to this movement.

You probably already know this—but we began as a short (nonfiction) story written in 2006. The story was specific—it was about one young life struggling to find a way to stay. The story tells about a group of friends who didn’t look away from her pain but found ways to sit in it with her. They found moments to speak the words that became a lifeline: you are loved, you are worthy of help, worthy of healing, and worthy of a chance for things to get better. Our origin story and the stories we continue to share to this day are a source of hope. And it’s not just written words found on our blog—it’s conversations had on the podcast, vulnerable exchanges at the booth at a music festival, and intentional messages of encouragement shared on the internet every day for the past 17 years. And all of that builds and combines to create the world we want to live in.

This world looks like someone asking for support instead of inflicting pain on their body to cope. It looks like leaning on people who understand what you’re walking through instead of turning to a bottle or substance to soothe a gnawing hurt. It’s a world where it feels as easy to ask for a therapist recommendation as it does for the best coffee shop in town.

In this world, it’s also normal and human to feel deeply, to struggle, and to let people in when you’re struggling. It’s where being known and seen still means connection, care, and words of love are handed to you freely.

We know that most people don’t live in this world yet. But if you’re reading this, we bet you’re one of the people who share this vision with us.

When asked, 78% of adults said they’d do anything they could to help a friend or loved one considering suicide. I think it’s fair to say that with information about how to help, most people would do what they could to help people stay. Even on my worst days after doom scrolling, I still believe most people want someone struggling with thoughts of suicide to hear and know that their life does matter, their pain matters, and that there is help for the tremendous hurt they are carrying.

And so we don’t arrive at our 17th birthday without you. Without the person reading the blog or listening to the podcast, without the teacher bringing our high school program to their school, without the friend stepping into their community and raising a flag of hope. It’s you who shows up to make a donation or to fundraise to keep our scholarship program growing and tearing down the barriers that prevent access to mental health care.

Since 2006, TWLOHA has invested over $3.4 million into treatment and recovery. Each year we help support 3,200 counseling sessions. Each month, TWLOHA reaches more than 7 million people online with words that create sparks of hope and help people feel less alone.

Our high school program Between the Bells has reached 83,000 high school students with a week-long curriculum that makes space for hard conversations and connects them to life-saving resources. We even see this movement beyond the US, with our merch and message finding its way to 49 countries.

You’ve helped sustain this movement (even in the midst of two very difficult years). This community and corner of the internet are where people can come to find connection, find resources, and find that they are not alone and that their struggles are not too much.

We can’t thank you enough for understanding how much a story can matter to someone, and how it can give them the courage to keep fighting. Each message we receive that says this movement helped save their life stems from your support. We are so grateful to be here 17 years later, to see our culture shift, to see stigma loosen its grip, and to know that we’ve been able to play a role in even one person’s journey of healing.

We will keep doing this work. We will look to tomorrow again and again with the hope of recognizing the world we live in as the one we know can exist.

With hope always,
Lindsay Kolsch
TWLOHA Co-Executive Director

Thursday, March 30th, marks 17 years of TWLOHA. 17 years of providing hope and connecting people to help. Join us online as we celebrate stories still going and the promise of a kinder tomorrow. 

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Comments (3)

  1. Kimberly Settle

    Congratulations! Sincere, well-deserved, APPLAUSE! Thank you for what you have done… and best wishes for all you continue to do. Warm regards from a long-time mental health provider.

    Reply  |  
  2. Jen Barth

    That is amazing. Thank you for who you are and what you do! TWLOHA is part of the reason why I am back in school at 55 to become a licensed mental health therapist. My father and his mother both died by suicide and I don’t want anyone to have to try to survive that. There were some really bad days.

    Reply  |  
  3. Suzanne

    Thank you for all the support you send out and the words of encouragement!
    Most people don’t realize the struggle is real. I’m glad I found TWLOHA. Have already shared your love with another in need of encouragement💜

    Reply  |  
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