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1,100 Backpacks Travel to UCSB to ‘Send Silence Packing’

“Each suicide produces at least 6, as many as hundreds of ‘survivors’ or people left to grieve.”
“Each suicide produces at least 6, as many as hundreds of ‘survivors’ or people left to grieve.” (Active Minds photo)

1,100 backpacks will be scattered across UC Santa Barbara’s Student Resource Building Lawn Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to represent the number of college students who take their own lives each year. 

UCSB's Active Minds chapter invites the community to help save lives by standing up to stigma and attending the suicide awareness event, called “Send Silence Packing.”

“Being selected as one of only a handful of California schools in 2015 to host this display was no small feat,” said Ryan Sims, staff advisor to Active Minds and associate director of student mental health coordination services at UCSB. “It is my hope this display will inspire students at UCSB to join Active Minds in record numbers this year and assist the chapter in their education and advocacy efforts to destigmatize mental illness and encourage students to seek help as soon as help is needed.” 

Send Silence Packing is a nationally recognized public education exhibit of 1,100 backpacks, representing the number of students lost to suicide every year, that travels to college campuses and city spaces.

Active Minds has partnered with the Mental Wellness Center to co-host the exhibit’s stop in Santa Barbara and inspire action for suicide prevention.  

“Mental health problems are common among college students and the consequences of untreated mental health issues can be devastating,” said Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center. “Stigma is a major reason why students don’t seek the help they need, and when it comes to suicide, that help could save their lives. The Mental Wellness Center is teaming up with Active Minds to raise awareness, offer resources to students and encourage them to reach out for help.” 

The powerful outdoor exhibit of 1,100 donated backpacks sheds light on college student suicide and promotes a healthy dialogue around mental health. To give a “face” to the lives lost, personal stories and testimonies written by families and friends accompany the backpacks.

Passersby will be invited to walk among the backpacks and read the stories of those who have died.

In addition, the Mental Wellness Center and Active Minds will provide literature on mental health, suicide prevention and community resources for seeking help. 

Send Silence Packing is a program of Active Minds, Inc., the leading national nonprofit organization working to engage students in the conversation about mental health.

The backpack display travels throughout the Midwest and California. This will be its first time in Santa Barbara.

The program was unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2008, with a keynote speech by the Honorable Patrick Kennedy. Since then, more than 320,000 people in 98 cities throughout the country have experienced Send Silence Packing.

For more information, visit www.ActiveMinds.org/SendSilencePacking. Active Minds continues to collect backpacks in honor of loved ones. If you've been impacted by suicide you can send in your story to www.Activeminds.org/ShareYourStory.

For more information about the Mental Wellness Center, please call 805.884.8440 or visit www.mentalwellnesscenter.org.

— Daniella Alkobi is a publicist representing UCSB's Active Minds.


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