Ithaca College was our first full outdoor display! The day started off cold but soon turned into a beautiful day to be outside. The banner was filled with signatures by the end of the day and Ithaca needed to start a second page in the journal. We were visited by members of Cornell’s mental health student organization, Minds Matter. Along with Ithaca College they donated a backpack to tour with Send Silence Packing.
One of the many great things about touring with Send Silence Packing is all of the people we are able to meet that share their thoughts, ideas, and moving stories with us. It is an extraordinary feeling to inspire others with the message of positive mental health and suicide awareness but it is also such a fantastic experience to hear the amazing things that others are doing.
LeBron Rankins, Ithaca College Active Minds advisor and campus counselor, works hard to change the lives of students for the better. His dedication shines in the programming the counseling center has and in the dedication of the Active Minds chapter members. Throughout the day he started conversation with students, volunteers, and Brandon and myself that were thought provoking and forward-moving. He held these conversations with ease and is someone whose passion for helping others is extremely evident.
Students were filming the display for a video LeBron is helping them work on about the counseling center. It focuses on why every individual’s voice matters in reference to mental health and how everyone can help to erase the stigma that our society holds against mental health issues. There was also another student project filming at the display for a class assignment. Their main focus was issues surrounding the suicides from the bridges on Cornell’s campus and installation of barriers to prevent future tragedies. As part of their project, they interviewed Active Minds members and filmed the display to raise awareness of suicide.
The parents of Joe Cooper were present in Ithaca to see the powerful impact of Send Silence Packing. They lost their son to suicide and they donated a story to the project to help spread awareness and promote positive mental health. Mrs Cooper said that she works hard to let people around her community, and wherever she can be heard, that they are not suffering alone. She has visited schools, funeral homes, and other places where she can reach out to others to let people know what kinds of resources are available to survivors of suicide and individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts. She told me that she educates people because “there is always someone that is willing to listen, no matter what kind of issues you are going through.” She is working hard to let others know that they don’t have to suffer in silence and that there is always someone to turn to, even when you think you are alone.
The students that are a part of the Active Minds chapters are spreading the importance of changing the conversation about mental health and erasing the stigma that people have against talking about it. It is their hard work that encourages students to be mental health advocates and resources to their friends and family. There were many students and professors that I was able to talk to that told me what they were personally doing to ensure positive mental health in the students that they knew. The concern of staff and students on college campuses is a remarkable way to show students that are having trouble with mental health that there are people they can turn to. Sometimes people just need a friend or a mentor to talk to when they are having a difficult time. Knowing that there are people that are willing to listen can help save a life.