Yesterday at James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA, more than 1,000 backpacks lay scattered over the campus lawn symbolizing the the staggering number of college students who take their own life each year.
Tuesday’s exhibit kicked off the first of many for the Send Silence Packing tour, a 10-city tour that will make its way across college campuses all over the U.S. this spring.
The Send Silence Packing program is operated through a D.C.-based organization called Active Minds, Inc., which has a “growing network of more than 250 student-run chapters at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.” It has gathered 1,100 backpacks and continues to pull in tragic stories of suicide victims to honor loved ones who have experienced the tremendous loss of suicide.
“By displaying backpacks with personal stories of loved ones that put a ‘face’ to lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but also about saving the lives of students, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation.” -Active Minds
<img src= “http://www.activeminds.org/storage/activeminds/images/washington_monument_send_silence_packing.jpg” alt="" border="1">
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health on college campuses can be the very thing that can deter a student suffering from any number of mental illnesses to seek help. Active Minds is working to not only reduce the number of campus suicide fatalities but to create a favorable ambience that would promote a student’s openness and willingness to be treated.
This poignant public display of ownerless backpacks has touched tens of thousands of people in the last several years in its effort to raise suicide awareness and promote discourse about mental health issues that affect every campus in the nation, including suicide prevention strategies. Send Silence Packing hopes to deliver the same impact on its 2010 spring tour.
Sources: CNN iREPORT, Active Minds, Inc., ChangeMakers.com, JMUWeb
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