Nearly 1,100 students commit suicide each year, making it the second leading cause of death among college students. In an effort to change these statistics, the Active Minds club put on a public display titled “Send Silence Packing” on Tuesday, April 7.
The event included placing 1,100 backpacks on the fourth floor of Jubilee to represent those students who took their lives in the last year. Each backpack told the story of one of those students from around the country.
“Students or families across the U.S. have shared their experiences of losing a loved one to suicide or the impact of knowing someone who has committed suicide,” said Dr. Priti Shah, the Active Minds Club advisor and Counseling and Psychological Services counselor. “Sometimes these are personal stories, or stories about the person who passed away, or even encouraging messages to those who are struggling.”
Dr. Shah said that the goal of the public display is to put names and faces to those who have been impacted by suicide, so that people walk away realizing that these are real people, real families and real students who have been affected. CAPS counselors will be available to answer questions and talk to students during the event.
“Send Silence Packing” is a program designed by Active Minds, Inc., a national organization.
“Chapters of this organization across the U.S. may choose to bring this display/program to their university,” Dr. Shah said. “The program was designed to be a public display because this sends the message that mental health and suicide is not something we should fear talking about.”
The SHU club strives to host programs that promote their mission of informing students about common mental health issues among college students and initiating conversation on the matter to help those in need, according to Crystal Watson, the Active Minds treasurer and a junior psychology major.
“I hope students leave feeling touched, but also encouraged that they can speak openly about issues such as mental health,” said Dr. Shah. “The hope is to create awareness and start an open dialogue about issues that as a society we don’t often acknowledge or discuss in an open forum.”
To further promote this ideal, Active Minds holds various events throughout the year.
“We’ve shown a movie screening of ‘Happy’ during International Month, which focused on how happiness is viewed around the globe as well as real life stories of people from different countries and cultures about their journey to find happiness,” Watson said. “We have tabled to promote stress relief as well as eating disorder awareness.”
Watson said Active Minds wants to show that no one is alone and everyone harbors deep secrets, but it is beneficial to express them and see that other people may experience personal struggles too.
Rebecca White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.