Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students and, and each one of those deaths touches us all. College students face many pressures once they leave their families and their homes to head off to college. We know that 67% of college students tell a friend they are feeling suicidal before telling anyone else, which is why it is so critical to Active Minds that the students are empowered and have the tools needed to educate, support, and advocate on behalf of their peers in order to dispel the stigma that surrounds mental illness and ensure that others have access to the mental health services they need.
Beginning tomorrow, March 30, Active Minds acclaimed suicide awareness program Send Silence Packing will be back on the road for a five week spring 2011 tour. The first stop is University of Maryland – College Park. The exhibit begins at 10am and will be housed on Mckeldin Mall (Grand Ballroom Lounge at the Stamp Student Union if it rains).
For those of you who don’t know, Send Silence Packing is an exhibit of 1,100 backpacks representing the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year. The goal of Send Silence Packing is to raise awareness about the incidence and impact of college student suicide and help people understand how they can be part of the solution. The backpacks on display were donated in honor of loved ones and many of them have personal stories attached to give a ‘face’ to the lives lost.
Last spring, the Send Silence Packing Program visited 10 cities across the US. This video is a great recap of that adventure.
The Send Silence Packing exhibit has continued to travel since the last tour. In September, the exhibit headed to SAMSHA’s national headquarters in Rockville, MD in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week. Then in October the exhibit traveled to Philadelphia for a stop at Temple University thanks to support and participation from Frank Warren of Post Secret. In November, the display attracted a lot of media attention in New Jersey at Montclair State University where it was apart of the Active Minds National Mental Health on Campus Conference.
This spring (2011) the program will visit 14 locations in 9 states. For a complete list of the tour dates and locations, click here.
Before wrapping up, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and this year’s road trip staff to you. I am the new Director of Communications and Marketing at Active Minds. I arrived at Active Minds Inc. just a few weeks ago. As the newest member of the team it has been very exciting to watch as the Send Silence Packing program prepares to get back on the road. I can’t wait to see this tour in action! I will also be one of your bloggers. The other bloggers are the Send Silence Packing road trip staffers, Nicole Pietfzak and Brandon Doman.
After searching far and wide for the right people for this important job, we were lucky enough to meet Nicole and have Brandon sign on to join the Active Minds team once again. Brandon was one of our road trip staffers from last year and the entire Active Minds staff couldn’t be happier to have him back. Nicole and Brandon will be live blogging from the road, so make sure you keep checking back for updates, pictures and great stories from their big adventure.
I am proud to be part of Active Minds. Send Silence Packing is about saving lives and making sure each one of us knows what we can do to prevent suicide. We hope this program helps bring the hidden tragedy of college student suicide out of the shadows. I hope that you will follow Active Minds on our journey to change the conversation around mental health. I encourage each of you to read, comment and be an active part of this blog.