I wrote a blog for work that I love… but it was shot down because of certain reasons. It was written with love so I am going to just share it here instead. I hope you enjoy it. I’m sorry that I never got the chance to speak with Aria Heller but if she reads this – thank you.
Boggle the Owl Brings Encouraging Messages
Boggle the Owl, a caring, thoughtful cartoon character, was created in 2012 by artist Aria Heller as a gift to her friends who were having a bad day. She wanted to create something to cheer them up. From the first cartoon, “Please don’t be too hard on yourself today,” Boggle became a poster-owl for positive mental health messages.
Heller, who had no experience with cartooning, created Boggle as a one-shot cartoon but the encouraging words of the owl resonated far beyond just her friends, with more than 105,000 reposts. People had found something they needed in this little owl, and many of them sent Boggle personal messages about their struggles. Heller began using Boggle to respond to readers with concern, love, and affirmation and sharing her own stories of mental health challenges. The response was thousands of people linking, reblogging, and writing to Heller about how Boggle’s words affected them profoundly, and in some cases even saved their lives.
While Boggle is no longer active online, the hopeful messages still strike a chord today. A quick Google search turns up numerous images and messages on a variety of social media platforms.
Recent celebrity suicides have garnered a lot of attention and commentary as the “why” someone would take their own life. Many public comments were expressions of dismay, worry and hurt while others were angry and called victims “weak” or “selfish.” The positive, practical, hopeful message from Boggle the Owl seem an important part of the discussion. Many resources are available including resources from APA, from the National Suicide Hotline, the Crisis Text line and many others.
“A cry for help,” is one of Heller’s most popular and strongest message. It even adorns the walls of some therapist’s offices.
Heller described her experience with Boggle to Comic Alliance in 2012: “These people who write in, who are often so depressed, and so self-defeating, and so self-loathing, are getting advice from a cartoon character… who is caring, and kind, and only wants what’s best for them. It makes it so that the things Boggle says can get through to them, when they wouldn’t if I were the one saying them… They know Boggle can be trusted, they know Boggle really means what he says.”
In her cartoons Heller consistently stresses the importance of reaching out for help—to a psychiatrist, a therapist or other health care professional. If you find that you are in need of a psychiatrist, you can use the APA Psychiatrist Finder to locate one near you.