When Jamie Tworkowski learned that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 18- to 24-year-olds, he decided to do something about it.
Tworkowski is founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a non-profit organization dedicated to finding help for people who struggle with depression, addiction and self-injury. He will speak at the fourth annual Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit, hosted by Colorado State University’s Colorado Injury Control Research Center on Friday, May 20.
The conference, titled “Bridging the Divide: Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit,” is designed to unite stakeholders to advance statewide and national efforts to impact the high suicide rate in Colorado.
Tworkowski started TWLOHA in 2006 as an attempt to help a friend struggling with addiction, depression and suicide. Tworkowski posted a blog on MySpace and began selling T-shirts as a way to pay for his friend’s treatment. The T-shirts quickly became a phenomenon when popular bands such as Switchfoot, Anberlin and Paramore began supporting the movement. Today, TWLOHA has one of the largest online audiences of any non-profit on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter with more than 1.3 million viewers.
“Suicide remains a significant public health issue in Colorado and far too many die by or attempt suicide each year,” said Jarrod Hindman, program director for Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention. “Fortunately, Colorado is a leader in convening stakeholders, rallying support for suicide prevention efforts, implementing innovative programs and supporting suicide prevention initiatives statewide.”
Colorado has taken great strides in advancing suicide prevention efforts since 2000 when the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Advisory Commission released the State of Colorado’s Suicide Prevention and Intervention Plan. Those efforts led to the creation of the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Additionally, Colorado foundations and local grassroots agencies are addressing the task of reducing suicide deaths in Colorado – efforts that are being recognized and modeled nationally.
The conference will bring together the best minds and most passionate advocates for suicide prevention. Other keynote speakers include Cathy Barber, director of public heath practice activities at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury and Control Research Center, and Nancy Amidei, who served on the faculty at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work from 1992-2008.
Barber led the effort to design and test the pilot for what is now the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System and is co-founder of the National Center for Suicide Prevention Training.
Amidei directs the Civic Engagement Project, which works with non-profit organizations throughout the country and offers advocacy training, speeches, workshops and resource materials.
For more information or to register for the conference, contact the Office of Conference Services at (970) 491-7501 or e-mail Julie Gibbs at email@example.com.
Sponsors of the conference include the Colorado Injury Control Research Center at Colorado State, The Colorado Trust, the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.