TWLOHA members not afraid to reveal their troubled past

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    Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic depictions of suicide ideation.

    In front of a crowd at the Brown-Lupton University Union Wednesday, Lauren Hart, a junior writing major, shared her story about her near suicide attempt when she was 17 years old.

    Hart said that her first boyfriend abused her physically, emotionally and sexually while they were dating. Her next boyfriend didn’t believe her stories, which caused her to go into depression.

    When Hart was 17 years old, she took a knife from her kitchen in the middle of the night, locked her room, filled up her bathtub, climbed in, laid down and pressed the blade of the knife against her wrist.

    “I stared at the knife’s glare for a minute or two, then in my disgust I threw it across the tile floor,” Hart said. “I hugged my knees and bowed my head and cried like I never had before. I just sat in the bathtub for a while, crying, breathing, just realizing what I had done.”

    Her story was one of several told as part of To Write Love On Her Arms’ fundraiser. The organization presents hope and finds help “for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.”

    Hank Kilgore, a first-year writing major, said he saved his best friend from taking her life when he was in seventh grade. Kilgore said his friend had attempted suicide two previous times.

    Kilgore noticed his friend’s week-long absence from school. He said his friend wasn’t responding to calls or text messages.

    Kilgore’s mother drove him to his friend’s house. He said he found her in her bathtub with weights on top of her, but he was able to stop her.

    “That’s a really scary thing to think about,” Kilgore said. “Thirteen-year-olds are actually conscious of something like suicide.”

    That incident was not Kilgore’s only experience with a suicide attempt.

    Kilgore said he tried to kill himself during his first year of high school.

    He said he went into depression during his first few months of high school. Kilgore lost connection with his parents, his friends and his faith in God.

    Kilgore did not say how he attempted suicide, but he said what he did should have killed him.

    “Zero reason to be alive right now,” Kilgore said.

    Maddey Nelson, TWLOHA chapter president, said she also contemplated suicide while in high school.

    The senior political science and psychology double major said her father died from a prescription drug overdose when she was 11 years old.

    Nelson said her older brother also struggled with substance abuse and was constantly in and out of jail and rehab centers. Nelson’s brother also contemplated suicide, she said.

    Nelson said she thought about suicide when she began to hear voices telling her to jump off a building.

    Nelson planned to commit suicide while her friends were at prom and her mother was attending Saturday mass.

    However, Nelson’s friends knew about her depression and invited her to prom. Nelson had a good time with her friends and woke up the next morning without hearing the nagging voices.

    “My story is very personal, and I’m very upfront with how it’s conveyed,” Nelson said. “I’m not someone who’s like, these issues are bad. I have experienced these things, I am someone who has lived through them.”

    While the stories that Hart, Kilgore and Nelson shared brought a serious tone to the fundraiser, there were many uplifting speakers and performers.

    First-year music composition major Nathan Berry played three songs on his cello that he composed, including a cello-techno fusion piece.

    There were also a few students that played covers of popular songs or original pieces, and a few women performed a choreographed dance.

    Alec Mothershead, a first-year social work major, read a few of his original poems to the audience. Mothershead said the fundraiser was much more than raising funds and recruiting new members.

    “Yeah, we raised a little bit of money for the organization, but that’s not what it’s really all about for us,” Mothershead said. “It’s about being able to reach out and share our stories, and just remind people that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, and that there’s someone who cares.”