Traveling suicide awareness exhibit coming to CSU Friday

Jenn Yingling

Send Silence Packing, an exhibit of over 1,100 backpacks representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year, will be on campus from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday, March 31.

The exhibit will be on display between the Eddy Building and the Education Building or in case of rain, in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center.

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The event is sponsored by the Colorado State University Health Network, the Associated Students of Colorado State University and Active Minds, a student organization that aims to empower college students to speak openly about mental health issues and suicide.

Send Silence Packing is a traveling exhibit that visits around 20 colleges and universities per year. After an application process, CSU was selected as one of these schools this year.

“We are creating a space for students to come together and be vulnerable by sharing their stories,” wrote Kayla Wong, alumni and co-founder of the Active Minds chapter at CSU, in an email to the Collegian.

Each of the backpacks that will be on display represent the life of a college student that was lost to suicide. Among these backpacks will be photographs of some of these students, as well as their stories.

Backpacks are donated through the National Active Minds Organization, and many of which are donated by families who lost a student to suicide. CSU Active Minds will also be donating a backpack at the conclusion of the day.

“Our hope is that many CSU students will pass by the visually impactful exhibit and will stop to reflect on what a serious impact suicide has on college students,” wrote Janelle Patrias, the Manager of Mental Health Initiatives and Active Minds advisor at CSU, in an e-mail to the Collegian.

According to Patrias, students are encouraged to share their own messages of hope, survival or tributes by sharing a note to be included in the backpack.

For more than a decade, the exhibit has “broken through the silence that surrounds mental illness and suicide in a profoundly impactful way,” according to their website.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit the exhibit during the day on Friday in order to spread the message of suicide awareness and prevention throughout campus.

Student volunteers are needed to help with the event. Students can volunteer by signing up on the organization’s Google doc.

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For more information about Send Silence Packing, visit their website.

Collegian reporter Jenn Yingling can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @jenn_yingling.