Students gathered on Thursday night to learn more about suicide prevention and to support people suffering from depression and self-harm at an event put on by a Leaders Scholar Institute team.
The LSI team also encouraged students to spread awareness for suicide prevention on Friday through social media using the hashtag “JBUwriteslove.”
“So far the comments I’ve received from those that attended have all been very positive,” Ryan Nichols, a member of the LSI team, said.
Earlier, the team was given a list of organizations they could support as part of a project and unanimously decided to plan an event for TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms).
“TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery,” the non-profit organization states on their website.
As part of the social media campaign, users were encouraged to write “love” on their arm and post a picture online.
Sydney Weaver, another member of the LSI group, said the social media challenge and table in the Walker Student Center were all the group originally planned for the project.
However, Nichols told his teammates he knew someone with personal experience willing to speak on campus.
Rebecca Christians, the speaker for the event on Thursday night, lost her daughter to suicide about 10 years ago and experienced intense depression for which she eventually received help in her recovery. Christians then started Autumn’s ReRide, a horse ministry named after her daughter for children with mental and physical disabilities.
“I personally gained a passion for this topic after working for Ms. Christians and hearing her testimony,” Nichols said. “Through her we actually had pictures of “love” written on arms of people all over northwest Arkansas and beyond.”
Planning for the event took several weeks, including working with event staff and marketing on campus through the Toilet Paper, flyers on doors and signs in the Walker Student Center.
“The event staff was absolutely amazing in helping us plan this, they were incredibly patient and answered all of my questions with rapidity! The hardest part was reserving Simmons and organizing a Walker table but thanks to the event staff that was a breeze,” Nichols said.
Weaver said she believes the event “created change”, which was the original goal of the project.
“I felt as though the event went super well, and we were overwhelmed with the amount of interest and support we received from the JBU community,” Weaver said.
The success of the project prompted some to consider beginning a TWLOHA chapter on campus.
“We’re also considering extending this into an on-campus ministry if possible but we’re still not entirely sure,” Nichols said.