Jamie Tworkowski

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/30/art_tworkowski.jpg

caption=”Jamie Tworkowski, 28, founded the non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms.”]
I think at one point or another we’ve all encountered someone we know or someone a friend knows who has dealt with drug addiction, self-injury or depression. I certainly have. But Jamie Tworkowski did something about it. At 26, he left his six-figure job to help a suffering friend and so many others like her.

Jamie wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” after he helped save a friend from self-destruction. He believes what saved his friend was love, truth in a world of lies and realization of what life can be when people commit to meeting a need. In 2006, the title of the story turned into a movement by the same name in his Orlando community. Its message and reach as a non-profit has grown immensley since then, raising $100,000 in just a year.

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “A friend of mine told me there is no such thing as suicide prevention. This is an attempt to prove him wrong, to say that love can change a life. We can hold back the darkness. Rescue is possible,” Jamie says.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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55 Responses to Jamie Tworkowski

  1. Melissa, Los Angeles says:

    I’d like to know what kind of love he gave her that her family couldn’t. My parents loved my brother to his death by enabling his self destructive behavior so what could he do as an outsider that family can’t.

  2. Annette says:

    There is no doubt that teens are facing a more difficult transition in to adulthood these days. Causes are complex including media and family dynamics, but to be sure the cure won’t come easily inside the families alone. We have watched drugs and various types of addictions take young people to dark places. We have watched teens listen more to people outside of the family than inside. There is a need today for a place that can help teens change their outlook from themselves to the bigger picture. I think family alone, in these times with all of the outside influences- won’t do it.

  3. DR says:

    Melissa from LA: I’m sorry to hear about your brother. You answered your own question, though. You say that your family enabled your brother’s self-destructive behavior. Often it takes a third party to break the cycle of enabling.

  4. Melissa, Los Angeles says:

    Hi DR, unfortunately several third parties could not help. My brother was sent in for a mental evaluation after making claims of wanting to die in front of a doctor. He was able to fool whoever he was being evaluated by and was sent home instead of being held further. Sounds like Jamie was able to do what a professional couldn’t. Thanks for the sympathy.

  5. Patrick says:

    I’m certainly no expert in these matters, but I think the difference Jamie has made is what stands out in the name his organization…LOVE. Not just shallow words, not physical attraction/lust, but words followed by action and concern for the heart. “Professionals” can offer advice, medication, & programs, but a majority of the teens I’ve talked to choose this lifestyle because they don’t feel loved by anyone, therefore they certainly don’t love themselves. Jamie was (& is) simply putting others before himself, demonstrating authentic concern and introducing true love to a friend.

  6. Nakia says:

    Jamie, in the future, will you be conducting any interviews of “Middle Age People Who Rock”? There are a lot of over the age of 30 mothers and fathers, community leaders/volunteers, mid-career professionals, CEO’s, and entertainers who are also making a difference in people’s lives who are not brought in the public eye, are often missed and not recognized. With their knowledge, experience and expertise, they are also the ones keeping this economy together by raising our sons and daughters, future leaders, are passing the baton to the next generation and continuing to give us hope during these hard economic times.

    Hope you will consider making this a future segment.

    Thank you so much for airing Young People Who Rock, a true inspiration to us all.

  7. Stephanie Lockhart says:

    Agreeing with the aforementioned parties, in this day and age it will involve more than great family foundation to assist in the transition teens take into adulthood. Speaking from experience, as a resident assistant in a dorm my sole purpose it to be a facilitator as well as a comforter to problems. You can only imagine the issues that students who come from well off families and have two-parents in their home face.
    They direct their needs, acquisitions and concerns to these third parties whether it be a mentor, a friend or significant other and sometimes the molding and responses that is done in this process further adds to the turmoil they are facing.
    It is going to take these third parties to pay more attention to the signs of depression and suicide these teens are facing. Sometimes it takes a listening ear, words of advice, referral to a program or actually an involvement in these situations to the degree Jamie did for his friend.

  8. Kevin says:

    This guy and this organization are amazing. Definitely worth checking out and supporting.

  9. Nakia says:

    Hi Jamie, please excuse me. My earlier comment was actually directed to Ms. Nicole Lapin. I will send my comment to her through CNN.com. And again, thank you for being a great inspiration to all of us.

  10. Cody Smith says:

    Here’s a question for Jamie:

    Can you describe in your own words what you feel the human condition is?

    thanks!

  11. Darcie says:

    my questions…

    1) Define hope in your own words.

    2) Do you ever worry that this movement will become less about the message of hope and truth and more about the faces who represent it? (Hero worship as opposed to being inspired/encouraged/influenced?)

  12. Tayler Davis says:

    Jamie, I think what you started is amazing. I got to hear Reenes story in person also, at the purpose for the pain tour and it was truely life changing.

    My question to you is did you think the organization would become this big when everything first got started?

  13. Meghan says:

    that guy up there ^^
    yeah, Jamie,
    he saved my life (:

    I well definatly watch.
    TWLOHA is an amazing organization and without it, I wouldn’t be here today.

  14. Paul says:

    I think a lot of people are under the impression that this movement is geared towards young teenage girls, but that is not true at all. I am a 28 year old man who has struggled with these very issues for years, and I believe in this organization. I believe in these things. Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark of the night.

    TWLOHA brings it to the surface, and people are reaching for it. The response has been amazing, and humbling – even to someone like me.

    The hardest people to reach are the young people. But, somehow, this movement has done just that.

  15. Jason says:

    I was a cutter but stopped long before TWLOHA was started. I remember the empty feeling and anger I had while I was injuring myself. I remember being so embarrassed and feeling like no one would understand.

    Jamie and his friends (me included) are making sure that this topic is not ignored or overlooked in a day where most of the american populus is only concerned with what directly effects them.

    the breath of fresh air is that the guy sacrificed his job security to take on a bigger call. All of us whom havew been healed should do our part to assist.

  16. kayla says:

    Well we need to love others.And I love anybody who loves me.

  17. kayla says:

    Jason what is TWLOHA? Is it something political?

  18. Lauren says:

    You’ve saved so many peoples lives, and made them think things through and see that they are loved, including me, what advice would you give some one who wanted to tell they parents they self harm, and get help?

    anddd

    coming to the UK anytime soon? >< xx

  19. kayla says:

    he is a great guy

  20. Sophie says:

    I got to meet Jamie in January when he came over to the UK, we didn’t talk for a long time, but I still count that as one of the most important days of my life. Hearing him talk, about the past, about plans for the future, gave me hope, made me understand that my life could be better.
    I feel like a fraud when I have bad days, because I believe in this cause so passionately, but I’m not always strong enough to have faith in myself.
    Sorry this isn’t a question.

  21. Dallas B. says:

    Hey Jamie,
    I’ve been following the TWLOHA movement now for about 2 years or so since I was thirteen. You’re movement has been a lifesaver for me and I’m so thankful that you’ve done this. I tell people constantly about this charity and it’s one of the main aspects of my daily life. It’s made high school so much easier.

    My question for you is:

    How does it feel to know that the work you’ve done has saved thousands of people’s lives?

    And aside from renee and her story, what other stories have inspired you in this charity?

    Thanks so much for everything you’ve done.
    Love lots,

    Dallas.

  22. Ali Killian says:

    TWLOHA is a big part of my life, and the feelings of love and hope that you get just from reading Renee’s story is incredible. I also attended one of the dates of the Purpose For The Pain tour, and I’m currently reading Purpose For The Pain; both have changed my life so much. So, Thank you, Jamie, for being brave enough to love a girl who felt that all hope was lost, and spreading the message of hope and rescue to others who are feeling the way Renee was. Now, for my question:

    Do you think there will ever be a time when these topics (depression, cutting, suicide) will become less “taboo” to talk about? Usually when topics such as the ones TWLOHA focuses on are brought up people shrug them off like they’re not a big deal, or because they simply do not want to talk about them. Do you think this will ever change?

  23. NS from MO says:

    Jamie,

    Let me just say that even if I don’t know you personally, I love you. Not like the creepy “I’m in love” with you kind of way, but I big brother kind of way. You have helped me, and many of my friends. I am so proud to know and fully believe in a organization like “To Write Love on her arms.”

    Question though, I know this really started with Renee, but could you expand on why you started this organization? Was there other people in your life that had dealt with these problems, did you struggle with them yourself?

    Thanks, keep on rocking! =)

  24. Erin says:

    Questions for Jamie:
    1) What do you think when random people open up and start telling you their stories?

    2) Do you believe it’s possible to “recover” from depression?

    3) How have you been impacted by starting TWLOHA and meeting so many people?

    4) What would you say is the most important thing for someone to remember who is trying to recover from these issues?

    5) What is your biggest fear? Your biggest dream?

  25. Kayla says:

    Jamie has changed my life :)
    thank you so much

    my questions are:

    1. How do you feel when you see teenagers wearing the shirts more as a fashion statement and don’t know the meaning behind them?

    2. What can people do if they would like to help at to write love on her arms events?

    and thanks again
    i love you jamie :)

  26. Kharrin says:

    My question:

    What would you say to someone who feels completely guilty by spreading the movement, while they themselves self -injure?

  27. brittney says:

    this organization is amazing and has helped me in many ways…

  28. Casey Papp says:

    i got to hear Renee’s story in person too on the Purpose for the Pain Tour.

    it was life changing. I read the book every night.
    i’m here today because of this organization, because of Jamie.

    =]

  29. Jonathan Gunasingham, 19, Toronto, ON says:

    Dear Jamie,
    How did your faith affect your actions to help Renee and did you feel pressured to share your faith at any point in being her friend? If so, how did you try to do so with a spirit of gentleness and keep her needs in mind?

  30. Austin says:

    i think this guy is amazing, leaving a great job, just to help a friend in need… man that is a true friend. i think if there were more peopl this this guy, america would be great. the middle east might stop thinking that we are a bunch of pricks.

    well, thought i’d put my two cents in.
    peace

  31. Elizabeth says:

    I think that Jamie was a very helpful person and was not one bit selfish. This shows that people do care about you even if you are a drug addiction or other addictions. I hope more people like Jamie will give a little bit of there time to help others in need.

    Love, Elizabeth
    _Ms. Britt’s Student_

  32. Damar from Mrs. Britt's Class says:

    I think that Jamie was a very succesful man and its good that he got off of drugs and he turned his life around

    Ms Britt’s Student

  33. Tyler from Ms. Britt's Class says:

    What do you do on your free time, do you work out? Play video games?

  34. Kaileigh says:

    I think Jamie is a really good friend and he is very brave for trying to stop someone from committing suicide. He is a smart person and deserves big thanks. He is a great person and is getting all the thanks he needs because he should feel great about saving his friend using love.

  35. Kaileigh says:

    I think Jamie is a really good friend and he is very brave for trying to stop someone from committing suicide. He is a smart person and deserves big thanks. He is a great person and is getting all the thanks he needs because he should feel great about saving his friend using love.
    Jamie, what encouraged you to save your friend?

    -Ms. Britt’s Student

  36. jaime says:

    I think you are a good person to help the people. I think your a very good person and to keep on helping.How did you get the courage to leave your job?

    Ms.Britt’s student

  37. Meghan says:

    Wow. That’s pretty amazing. After reading this, I wrote love on my arms just to get into the spirit. What made you save your friend? You never know, one day this might really help me in time of need.

    Meghan
    East Middle School

  38. Émie says:

    thank you for being brave enough to get out there and start this off. thankyou for letting us know there is hope, and there is love. as a christian i have felt even more alone as everyone at church and other christian gatherings all seem so together, to perfect, they act like to be there you’ve never messed up and that prayer solves everything. but i know that sometimes prayer makes you feel more alone when you can’t see an answer, or the answer you’re looking for. and with many christians who say that even peircings are ruining gods holy temple that is your body it makes me feel even worse about self-harming and even more alone.

    okay, my question; will TWLOHA ever be asking for stories of journeys of recovery from or experiences with things like cutting, addiction, depression, suicide to make into a book or anything?

    thankyou, and keep going :)

    Émie

  39. Peter says:

    To Jamie:
    On the social networking site socialvibe.com, there were several accusations on the TWLOHA forum that this movement is a fraud. Just for the sake of those that are misunderstood, can you clarify where the money goes to, and what this movement is really about?

    Thank you for being such an effective philanthropist =)
    – Peter

  40. Ju says:

    Questions:

    1) Have any stories you’ve heard truly stuck with you? What were they?

    2) Do you think it’s possible to ever completely heal from depression and pain?

  41. Heather says:

    Important to note that Jamie does not do this alone. There is a great team of people operating TWLOHA…and an amazing grass-roots support system. This is an important cause. Check out the website and learn more about TWLOHA and how you can help! http://www.twloha.com/

  42. minneapolis says:

    awesome article…this concept of people under 30 is so fitting for the hard times within our country. We look to the ‘higher up’ that are ‘leaders’ ‘leading’ america to these tough times…and to look at the true, grass roots leaders that are having impact is awesome.

    I don’t know how to submit suggestions…but please visit
    http://www.lifeskills-center.org

    Ryan Penneau is the associate director…he’s 24 and travels to campuses and businesses to speak on leadership and personal development. Just great stuff…and I’m not saying that to promote an org i work for…it’s awesome.

  43. christina, ny says:

    i am a cutter, suicidal, addict, with bipolar with extreme deppressive stages

    i asked for help soon after visiting the myspace page

    i have been in inpatient treatment for 9 months

    i am doing well now but have come very close to not being here today after many suicide attempts

    every day is a struggle

    i still self harm but not as bad

    it is a long painful process that my great family couldnt fix

    i thank twloha everyday along with the outside sources for help and family for love and support

    i am happy i am getting another chance

    but if im not careful i know i will lose and not get another chance because with each failure i got a little smarter

    you cant think think about the big picture

    just take it one day at a time or maybe just on moment at a time

    find your higher power whoever it may be

  44. Ashley. says:

    Jamie!
    You’ve helped so many people with this movement!
    Through TWLOHA, you’ve shown me that there is a reason to live.
    Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and many other people. :)

    To those of you who need help, check out To Write Love On Her Arms.
    Remember though, stay strong. <3

  45. Jesi says:

    I love Jamie so much; I heard him speak then met him earlier this year on his visit to the UK and he is truly inspirational in every sense of the word, and I’m not just saying that! He’s a perfect example of how one person can change so many lives, by getting up and acting rather than paying lip service. Imagine if everyone in the world did that.

  46. Ash says:

    TWLOHA is a wonderful organization. The fact that TWLOHA is based on one young adult saving another young adults life is amazing in itself. It is also amazing that this one young adult, Jamie Tworkowski, has started a non-profit movement aimed toward helping young adults deal with self-destruction. The TWLOHA movement is thriving and it has helped other young adults deter self-destruction, such as the recent blogger Meghan. I understand that this movement will not be able to help every young person who is suffering from a drug addiction, depression, or self-injury, but the organization is commendable in that it might save one more person that would have otherwise been lost.

    In reference to people who believe it impossible for a friend, such as Tworkowski, to have a stronger influence than parental influence need to be a bit more open-minded. According to Curran & Renzetti in their book Theories of Crime 2nd Edition, many young people with strong family ties and healthy family relationships are influenced more by their peers.

    The mission of the TWLOHA and the fact that it is growing will have a significantly positive impact on society. Spreading the mission behind TWLOHA will not only prevent self-destruction in itself, but also inform friends to embrace ‘Love’ as a means to help their self-destructive friends.

  47. Andrew says:

    TWLOHA is a great organization and really deserves the praise and attention it gets!

    You DO Rock Jamie!

  48. Lucy says:

    I have been following this movement for a while now, and I have seen the affect it has had on people. It has had a profound affect on me and many of my friends who have been struggling behind the scenes. I believe strongly in this quote from Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Jamie has lived up to that as well as other people working for TWLOHA. Thank you.

  49. anna says:

    every time i wear my To Write Love on Her Arms shirt, people ask me what it means. If that person has time, i get to pull them aside, and interrupt their life for all of 10 min. I tell them renee’s story, I encourage them to pass the story on and learn more about the movement. Jamie is doing a wonderful thing, and it isn’t just about what color tee shirt so and so got.

    LOVE is the movement!
    spread the word!

  50. stephanie says:

    dammm he’s cuuute

  51. john redlen says:

    you and everyone on that website is stupid for posting your problems online asses.

  52. Jason and Alex from journalism says:

    Jamie you are my hero. And you will probably never see this. but i thought i would tell you.
    you inspire me to make a difference.
    thank you for all you have done for the world.
    <3

  53. Julianna says:

    Nicole, you should do an interview with Kevin Killer. He is the definition of a community organizer, coming from a native american reservation in south dakota and working to bring his community together to work collectively to make their voices heard. he works with several progressive organizations that empowered this humble and shy young man who is now a state representative in South Dakota. he is drastically changing the power dynamic in his home state and his story is an extraordinary one.

  54. Katie says:

    I am 13, and I am in love with TWLOHA.
    Becuase of the love, encouragment, hope, dedication, and prayer of the TWLOHA team (special hugs to Jamie)…I am now into my 7th week of resisting the urge to cut. =]
    Jamie has helped me to look at the 30 or so scars on my left arm differently…maybe as a rememberance of what I survived. =] <3

  55. Diana says:

    Not only did TWLOHA help me stop cutting, but I met my wonderful boyfriend through the cause too. It’s helped me so much with my life, and if I ever see Jamie, I am going to give him the biggest hug known to mankind.

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