Valerie Osier | Staff writer
Over 1,000 backpacks were strewn across the quad on Sept. 10, each holding the story of a student lost to suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
Every year, 1,100 college students take their own lives, nationwide.
To combat this all too frequent tragedy and encourage active discussion of mental health, Active Minds Inc. has collected and continues to collect the backpacks and personal stories from the loved ones of people who have committed suicide to display in the installment, “Send Silence Packing”.
Those backpacks are displayed in a high-traffic areas of different college campuses nationwide, giving expression to the true magnitude of the issue and representation to the victims.
The victims are students just like you. They started college with big plans for their futures, but because college can be a difficult transition, many students can feel lost, lonely, stressed and anxious.
These problems can lead to depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
Student Terrell Mauldin can relate to the difficult transition.
“When I first started, it was so different, and in all the bad ways,” said Mauldin.
“Either you find your way into a group of people to call friends, or you’re alone.”
“Send Silence Packing” is a nationally recognized traveling exhibition that goes on tours on college campuses across the United States.
To commence their fall 2013 tour, “Send Silence Packing” came to Riverside City College on Sept. 10, as their first stop and will be traveling to 11 different locations in California.
“It’s a big honor for RCC to be chosen to be the first stop of the tour this year,” said Greg Ferrer, co-advisor of Active Minds.
The quad was chosen to be the display area for this exhibition. Every inch of grass was covered in backpacks.
In the walkways were several different informat ion booths. Among them were Active Minds Inc., Mental Health Association, Operation Safehouse, and Active Minds Club at RCC.
At these booths, students could find helpful information on things such as how to help a friend who is suicidal, where to get help, and information on mental health.
Students were also able to talk to Active Minds club members.
Many even opened up about their previous experiences with suicide and
“From who I’ve talked to in just the past half hour, at least 3 out of 10 people have said they’ve been directly impacted by suicide,” said chapter President Karina Figueroa.
“Some have told me they’ve attempted or contemplated suicide in the past.”
Many students said the exhibition opened their eyes more to the issue. “I’ve known of a few people that have committed suicide, I’ve even had a friend who did it. It’s a huge impact to do this event. It lets people know it’s not just another death or statistic, it was a person. It also makes you think: could this have been prevented? I think [suicide] is a common thought in this day and age, and everybody should be more open to discussing their problems, instead of bottling them up,” said student Ashley Kamali-Jones.
The goal of Active Minds Inc. is to educate people about mental health.