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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “To Write Love” comes to UA

    Two students, Gina Weisman and Natalia Guzman, are trying to bring a bit of hope to campus by starting a UA chapter of the national non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, one of the largest anti-depression and anti-suicide organizations in the country.

    The organization began in Orlando, Fla., in February 2006, as a written story that followed the original organizers’ friend’s five-day journey after being denied a place in a rehabilitation center. The name comes from the title of the story. T-shirts with the slogan were sold to try and pay for their friend’s drug treatment.

    But now To Write Love on Her Arms has spread across the country — and around Arizona and its colleges.

    “NAU (Northern Arizona University) and ASU (Arizona State University) already had branches of To Write Love on Her Arms for several years now and we were both wondering why the UA didn’t have one yet,” said Weisman, a sophomore studying family studies and human development.

    Guzman, an anthropology junior, said clubs like To Write Love on Her Arms are necessary to provide support to students.

    “Anywhere in the world, you’re going to find someone who’s depressed or hurting and needs counseling or needs someone to talk to,” Guzman said. “We’re trying really hard to get everyone to realize that pretty much everyone has gone through things like this. Even though it’s sunny 300 days of the year, people still need help.”

    Around 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression, with 18 million of those cases occurring in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health. Two-thirds of those suffering never seek treatment.

    In Campus Health Service’s 2011 Health and Wellness survey, 6 percent of students responded they had “serious thoughts” about suicide during the school year.

    Chapters of To Write Love on Her Arms offer students the counseling the initial group of organizers offered their friend, but through more organized means. While the UA chapter doesn’t offer its own professional counseling, it has grassroots outreach events planned and fundraisers to help raise awareness.

    “We’re not professionals, but that doesn’t mean that people who need one shouldn’t go see one. That’s what we’re here for, to help people in need feel like it’s OK,” Weisman said.

    With To Write Love on Her Arms chapters spreading rapidly across the country, Weisman and Guzman understand the particular need on university campuses for social outreach and awareness groups.

    “We want to do awareness events with CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services), as well as some statewide events with the NAU and ASU chapters in the future,” Guzman said.

    This coincides with a three-year grant, totaling more than $300,000, which Campus Health got from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand current and introduce new suicide-prevention services.

    Weisman said this is a necessary addition.

    “A lot of time on a college campus, these are issues that people don’t want to talk about,” Weisman said. “They are coming from out of state, or they don’t know anyone and feel alone. It’s just a good topic to make sure people know it’s all normal and OK to talk about.”

    Guzman agreed.

    “Sometimes, it’s just the little things,” Guzman said. “When people give you a smile or make an effort, it can make all the difference in the world. That’s what we’re after.”

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