Emory’s campus was full of students and professors that were interested in taking pictures of the display. The students from Decatur were snapping photos during set-up and making sure to document every part of their experience. There were also several people that came by, spent a lot of time reading the backpacks, and took pictures of the display. Seeing so many people do this reminded me of what it was like to experience Send Silence Packing for the first time. Now that I am on my third tour (and Brandon on his fifth) we are constantly excited about interacting with people that come to the resource tables to ask questions and share stories. I think we sometimes forget the experience we had seeing the display for the first time because we are so eager to interact with students walking by.
People will often comment on how overwhelming it is to see the back packs. Once they hear what they represent and how many young people we are losing each year, it takes a moment for people to collect their thoughts. It is one thing to hear the statistic that 1,100 college students lose their lives to suicide each year and a whole different thing to process seeing that many back packs. It is a great feeling to be a part of their experience and to help students change the conversation about mental health on their campus. Send Silence Packing makes a very serious and powerful statement while inspiring people to change the way they view mental health and suicide.
We received a lot of support throughout the day, and realized how important of an impact we made near the end of the display. We were short on volunteers when we started pack-up, but we had students stop what they were doing to help us. They had seen the display earlier and were eager to lend a hand. Working with Active Minds has been a constant reminder of what a difference we are making in the lives of people that we interact with. For all of the people that we were able to talk to, there are several more that were impacted my our message. Getting help from the students was a refreshing act of kindness that meant a lot to us when we needed the help. We hope to give the same message to anyone that we reach during our displays.