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“Love” Gives Hope

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 By Megan Cole

While September 10th often seems like any other day, despite the fact that it is immediately followed by the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist bombings, many Roanoke College students gave this day new meaning. Everywhere on campus ladies and gentlemen alike sported various marks of LOVE written across the inside of their wrists for Suicide Awareness Day.

This specific movement towards suicide prevention began in 2006, with the inspiring story of a 19 year-old girl named Renee who suffered from depression, thoughts of suicide, and self-injury. Renee’s friends wanted her to receive medical help, but the price of paying a rehabilitation center was near impossible for her family. Though they couldn’t offer monetary support, they gave the strongest gift a friend could—moral support. To Write Love on Her Arms turned viral. They replaced the razor with a marker and ‘cut’ the word LOVE on their wrists instead. Within one year, Renee obtained the necessary funding to begin her road to recovery—a process that she will go through for the rest of her life.

People worldwide continue to share her story and participate in this act in remembrance of anyone who’s considered, attempted, or succeeded in taking their own life. While it is likely that some of our students joined in for the novelty of the idea, the unfortunate truth is that Roanoke’s students know someone or they themselves have struggled with the condition. According to the CDC, depression affects 1 in 10 adults. That means that on average 200 students on Roanoke’s small campus are currently experiencing symptoms of depression. But, as this movement shows, there is always hope for a positive change.

Reflecting back on Monday reminds us that it is the little things in life that have kept people going in the past. Maybe what makes someone the happiest is being involved in a fraternity, sport, or performance group. Maybe another student prefers to hike the Appalachian Trail, spend a day shopping, or make a late-night Sheetz run with friends. Maybe the best bliss is found in even simpler forms—the smell of rain hitting hot asphalt, the serenity of star gazing, or the taste of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. It is inspiring that despite hectic class schedules and busy loves, the message of hope was never lost on September 10th.. It was through a simple act like writing LOVE on your friend’s arm, pushes some people through to surviving the next day.

If you need help with depression, please see the Counseling Center on campus. Appointments with our professional counselors can be made between the hours of 8 and 4:30 in John Alfred Morehead Hall (formerly known as the Chaplain’s Office). Services are free of charge and completely confidential.