California State University, Long Beach
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Innovative Suicide Awareness Display Sponsored By Students

Published: September 15, 2011

backpacks

In an effort to shed light on the tragedy of college student suicide and start a dialogue about a heavily stigmatized topic, several groups including Active Minds at CSULB and Project OCEAN (On Campus Emergency Assistance Network) will host Send Silence Packing, a public education display of 1,100 donated backpacks representing the 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year.

The event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Speaker’s Platform Lawn in front of the University Bookstore.

This is the first time the program will be in California, and CSULB is one of only eight California campuses that will be hosting. The others are CSU Chico, Chapman University, Claremont Colleges (Pitzer), College of the Desert, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC Riverside.

“Few people realize that suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses and is erasing the future of so many of our peers,” said Rachelle Ang, case worker in Disabled Student Services and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at CSULB. “We are so honored to host Send Silence Packing. The display will provide a powerful opportunity to raise awareness at Cal State Long Beach and let every student know that if they are depressed or suicidal they are not alone and there is help. Together we can save lives.”

Send Silence Packing was developed by Active Minds Inc., one of the leading voices for college student mental health in the United States. The national organization has collected and continues to collect backpacks and personal stories in memory of loved ones lost to suicide. By displaying backpacks with personal stories that put a ‘face’ to the lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but about saving the lives of students, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation.

At the event, both Active Minds and Project OCEAN will be passing out information about mental health, student suicide and where to go to seek help.

Other campus sponsors include Student Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Disabled Student Services, Long Beach National Alliance on Mental Illness, ASI and Beach Balance.

Project OCEAN was established in September 2008 with the goal of preventing suicide by promoting a campus climate that reduces the stigma of mental health issues and encourages help seeking behaviors when needed. The activities of Project OCEAN are designed to strengthen and fill gaps in existing services to expand the safety net for students vulnerable to suicidal ideas. For more information, visit the Project OCEAN website.

Active Minds supports a rapidly growing network of more than 350 student-run chapters on college and university campuses throughout the United States and Canada. All chapters work toward one goal—to create a campus culture where it is okay to speak openly about mental health and seek help. A national non-profit headquartered in Washington D.C., Active Minds empowers students to change the conversation about mental health one campus at a time. To learn more, visit its website.

For more information about Send Silence Packing and its spring tour, visit its website.

–Ken Swisher