Wow, California! You brought the enthusiasm, the amazing volunteers, and the life-changing conversations to our first-ever Send Silence Packing Fall Tour. There was rarely a dull moment, and each college campus presented a new set of students to educate and learn about. In this all-California tour, we put up displays everywhere from Chico and San Francisco to UCLA and Palm Desert. We met parents, friends, and family who came to the display to visit special backpacks. We spoke with strangers who were supportive because suicide had greatly impacted their lives. We handed out resources to friends who were worried about fellow friends. And we kept working to make sure college students knew where and how to get help.
From readers of the blog to strangers who stopped to talk, we had countless conversations with visitors to the displays. Even those who just took the time to read a few of our story backpacks definitely walked away with a new understanding, and hopefully a desire to speak out.
We each wanted to say a bit about our experiences, so here’s a bit about the tour in our own words:
From Brandon: Back in Spring of 2010 when I first found out I’d be going on the first tour of Send Silence Packing I don’t think I could have fully realized how much of an impact it would have. I’ve been able to see this message affect students, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, sons, daughters, and myself.
I’ve heard stories in the cities from people that have struggled with the impact of suicide on their own campuses and lives decades ago—when nothing was being said about the issue. Those same people often say how happy they are to see young people taking a stand and starting to speak. I’ve seen students that are in the middle of this all right now. Seeing so many different people (from so many different parts of life) come together over the past three tours has been a consistently amazing experience.
At the time of writing this I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of 36 displays over 19 states. I’ve seen the display next to both oceans and heard thousands of stories from all over between the two. I’ve heard thousands of voices coming together to speak out—and we’re only getting louder.
From Kathryn: I can’t thank you all enough for the opportunity to take the SSP tour on the road in California. It certainly was an adventure, and I loved every minute of the trip (well, except for that 102-degree Palm Desert weather that left me sunburned…) From driving our 16-foot truck to hiking in the beautiful mountains, it was quite the ride. But most importantly, I had the chance to do meaningful work I cared about.
It’s not often people say they love their jobs and mean it, but I can truly say that I had an amazing experience and couldn’t be more pleased with the entire tour. While I only played a small part in the amazing work done by Active Minds, I can still say that I greatly enjoyed having the chance. You all trusted in us to bring you a great display and speak honestly about mental health, and I believe we accomplished just that. So thank you for sharing your stories with me and for inviting us onto your campuses. The eye-opening conversations I had with strangers, friends, and family made me realize how lucky I am to be part of this movement that’s getting stronger every day. During this fall tour we added more than ten chapters alone! So thank you to everyone in California—and everyone at the national office for supporting us, too—for giving us an incredible ride. I can’t wait to come back!
But before we go…
Just because the tour is over doesn’t mean our work is done! There’s a whole lot you can do to continue supporting Active Minds and reaching out to change the conversation about mental health:
Find out about the November 13th annual Save-a-Life Community 5K Walk in San Diego by visiting http://savealifewalk.kintera.org.
We have backpacks from several of the supporters listed below, so be sure to find out more:
Alex’s dad wants to make texting an option for those who need to reach out to suicide hotlines. Learn more here.
Suzy’s parents want to stop suicide internet predators in their tracks. Help them out here.
San Francisco teens need support whether struggling personally or dealing with the death of a loved one. Find out how Break Through the Static does just that.
Visit the Rita Project to find out more about this non-profit that uses the arts to help heal both survivors and those struggling. Their opening celebration at Studeio at art labs is this Thursday, October 27 at 651 Clover St. in L.A. from 7-11PM.
So thank you to everyone who volunteered, attended the events, read the blog, and supported us from all over the country. We’ll leave you with a few photos of our truck all over California. It took quite the trip this fall!
Thanks again, and we can’t wait to see you next year!