Emotionally powerful display features empty backpacks representing suicides

Story by Kayla Wong

Send Silence Packing® – an emotionally powerful exhibit of over 1,000 backpacks representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year – will be on display at Colorado State University in the Education-Eddy lawn on Friday, March 31, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (In case of rain, the event will be held in the North Ballroom on the second floor of the Lory Student Center).

Send Silence Packing is presented by Active Minds, the leading national nonprofit that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. The traveling exhibit visits approximately 20 colleges and universities annually. The exhibit at Colorado State University is free and is sponsored by Active Minds, the CSU Health Network and ASCSU.

Any questions, comments or concerns about the student-led chapter of Active Minds can be sent to csuactiveminds@gmail.com.

Passersby are invited to walk among the Send Silence Packing backpacks to see the photographs and read the stories attached to them. Many of the backpacks were donated by families who lost a student to suicide. Active Minds staff, student representatives and university counselors will be on hand to provide information and resources.

About Send Silence Packing

Send Silence Packing was first unveiled in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with a keynote speech by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Since then, more than 260,430 people in more than 115 cities throughout the country have experienced Send Silence Packing. Evaluation data attests to the exhibit’s impact – most visitors leave wanting to learn more about mental health; the majority tell three or more people about the exhibit; and many reach out to a friend in need or seek help for themselves as a result of experiencing it.

About Active Minds

Active Minds was founded in 2003 by Alison Malmon, then a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, after tragically losing her only sibling, her 22-year-old brother Brian Malmon, to suicide. “The stigma that surrounds mental illness is the reason why many students don’t seek the help they need,” says Malmon, now the executive director of Active Minds. “Send Silence Packing is a highly visible way to combat that stigma, increase openness and inspire action for suicide prevention.”

Active Minds (www.activeminds.org) is the nation’s premier nonprofit for supporting the mental health of students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to speak openly, act courageously, and change the conversation about mental health for everyone. Active Minds has student-led chapters at more than 400 colleges, universities and high schools nationwide and internationally. Together with its more than 12,000 student members and partnering organizations, Active Minds is leading a movement to create lasting change within schools, workplaces and communities through mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs, resources and education.

Share your story

Active Minds continues to collect backpacks in honor of loved ones. If you’ve been affected by suicide, you can send your story to www.activeminds.org/shareyourstory. More information about Send Silence Packing is available at www.activeminds.org/sendsilencepacking.

For anyone thinking about suicide or worried about a friend in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text BRAVE to the Crisis Text Line (741-741). For resources on how to “Be a Friend” to someone who is struggling with a mental health issue, visit www.activeminds.org/beafriend.

At CSU, counseling is available to students via the CSU Health Network. More information can be found at http://health.colostate.edu/services/counseling-services/. If you are concerned about another student or CSU employee, Tell Someone online at http://supportandsafety.colostate.edu/tellsomeone or by phone at 970-491-1350.
Also, a free online student success portal is available to CSU students at http://you.colostate.edu.