An emotionally powerful exhibit of over 1,000 backpacks representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year will be on display at The University of North Alabama’s Memorial Amphitheater in Florence, Thursday, March 16, 2017, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (In case of rain, the event will be held in the Atrium of the Guillot University Center.
Send Silence Packing is presented by Active Minds, the leading national nonprofit that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. The traveling exhibit visits approximately 20 colleges and universities annually. The exhibit at UNA is sponsored by Active Minds @ UNA (student activity fees), the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs and Student Counseling Services.
Passersby are invited to walk among the Send Silence Packing backpacks to see the photographs and read the stories attached to the them. Many of the backpacks were donated by families who lost a student to suicide. Active Minds staff, student representatives, and University counselors will be on hand to provide information and resources.
Active Minds was founded in 2003 by Alison Malmon, then a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, after tragically losing her only sibling, her 22-year-old brother Brian Malmon, to suicide. “The stigma that surrounds mental illness is the reason why many students don’t seek the help they need,” said Malmon, now the executive director of Active Minds. “Send Silence Packing is a highly visible way to combat that stigma, increase openness, and inspire action for suicide prevention.”
Send Silence Packing was first unveiled in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, DC, with a keynote speech by The Honorable Patrick Kennedy. Since then, more than 260,430 people in more than 115 cities throughout the country have experienced Send Silence Packing. Evaluation data attests to the exhibit’s impact – most visitors leave wanting to learn more about mental health; the majority tell three or more people about the exhibit; and many reach out to a friend in need or seek help for themselves as a result of experiencing it.
Active Minds continues to collect backpacks in honor of loved ones. If you’ve been impacted by suicide, you can send your story to www.activeminds.org/shareyourstory. More information about Send Silence Packing is available at www.activeminds.org/sendsilencepacking.
For anyone thinking about suicide or worried about a friend in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text BRAVE to the Crisis Text Line (741-741). For resources on how to “Be a Friend” to someone who is struggling with a mental health issue, visit www.activeminds.org/beafriend
Active Minds (www.activeminds.org) is the nation’s premier nonprofit for supporting the mental health of students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to speak openly, act courageously, and change the conversation about mental health for everyone. Active Minds has student-led chapters at more than 400 colleges, universities, and high schools nationwide and internationally. Together with its more than 12,000 student members and partnering organizations, Active Minds is leading a movement to create lasting change within schools, workplaces, and communities through mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs, resources, and education.