Ashley SchellhaseMrs. CorbettAP English Literature9 April 2012 Raising Awareness of Depression and Suicide Have you ever considered the seriousness of mental illness such as depression? Idid not until it was too late to help my loved one suffering. (Show 40-second intro).Tragically, my cousin, Chris, was one of the 121 million suffering from depression, andthe people surrounding him were not aware of how serious depression really is; therefore,they could not help him, and he sadly committed suicide this past summer. My SeniorProject solely focuses on raising awareness in his loving memory because with thedramatically increasing percentages of the suicide rate, as many people as possible needto be educated, warned, and inspired about this issue. For my Senior Project, I knew that I wanted to incorporate an organization calledTo Write Love On Her Arms who has been raising awareness for depression and suicidefor over six years. I began my research on the organization, and I found that they beganthrough an online blog about a girl named Renee who was found on the streets by JamieT, the founder of TWLOHA. Renee’s story went viral, and soon after, the organizationbecame very popular, very quick. After researching about TWLOHA, I looked into whattypes of mental illness lead to suicide, what precautions can be made, what help isavailable to those suffering, and finally what can be done to prevent suicide as a whole. Afew interesting things that I learned from my research as whole include: (show video with
facts). My research as a whole inspired me to design my own blog, as my product,because it is a good way to publicly display my research, share my loved one’s story, andsimply raise awareness. Through my blog, my main goal is to raise awareness of depression and suicidejust like TWLOHA has already done. My blog consists of pictures, videos, and stories tofurther explain how serious and dangerous suicide really can be. The steps I took increating my blog include: 1) created a Tumblr blog, 2) spent time with my projectfacilitator to discuss what all my blog would consist of, 3) began research, 4) beganwriting posts, taking pictures that I will share, 5) made a donation link, on my blog, forvisitors who would like to donate to TWLOHA in loving memory of my cousin, Chris, 6)edited all posts and pictures to make them appealing and enjoyable for my audience, 7)finalized blog. After my blog was completely finished, I began to share the link so thatothers would be able to read and view everything I had worked so hard on. I shared myproduct through social medias including Facebook and Twitter. This allowed me to meetmy goal of raising awareness because my visitor count has been continuously growingrapidly. (Show blog) I feel very confident that I have made an impact on people throughsharing Chris’ story, but I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have withoutmy project facilitator, Glenn Reynolds. I was looking for someone with experience in web design to help me create myblog, and also someone with photography knowledge so that I could get appealingpictures onto my blog! I chose Mr. Reynolds because he has personally managed his ownPhotography business for over ten years now where he also runs the website for hisbusiness. Mr. Reynolds did not attend school for his job because he always used
photography as just a hobby until he moved to Alaska in 2005. After 2005, photographybecame a full time job for Mr. Reynolds, and I am thankful for his desire to help mealong my nine-month journey of creating pictures and posts for my awareness blog! Mr.Reynolds and I spent most of our time together through iChat video chatting, and hespent the most time explaining how to get different items onto my blog. Video chatsallowed for us to work with our busy schedules, and without them I would not have beenable to complete my blog! Through my journey, I have learned many facts about depression and suicide thatI did not know before, and this will help me to continue to raise awareness so that maybelives will be changed or even the suicide rate will soon decrease. Also, I have learnedpositive work habits because I felt very organized throughout my entire Senior Project!On the other hand, I did procrastinate some photo editing; therefore, I ended up spendinglong nights editing and publishing my photos towards the home stretch of my blog. MySenior Project has also helped me realize how I would pursue this topic. I would like to pursue this topic as a hobby. For example, I want to join a club incollege that supports TWLOHA. But I do not want to study the topic of mental illness,such a Psychology, in college because I do not want to deal with sad topics for the rest ofmy life. Instead, I will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall where I willstudy Sports Communications. As a whole, I feel that my research and blog have helped me realize that manypeople do not see the full affects of depression, how it begins, or how to help someonesuffering. My whole project has opened my mind to new perspectives on how to helppeople surrounding me. As I conclude, I would like to challenge you to always be kind to
people no matter what because you never know what someone is going through. A littlekindness can go a long way!