Photo courtesy of The Chaparral
On April 19, the Send Silence Packing exhibit visited College of the Desert’s main campus and displayed more than 1,000 backpacks that belonged to college students lost to suicide.
Send Silence Packing is an emotionally powerful exhibit that increases awareness about suicide prevention. It is part of Active Minds, a non-profit organization trying to raise mental health awareness. The group says more than 1,100 college students lose their lives due to suicide each year. The purpose of the exhibit was to help COD students raise awareness and help students who struggle with mental health issues.
More than half of the backpacks on campus were donated by friends and families of people who have died by suicide,” said staff coordinator Alexia Ruiz. “They have stories, pictures and personal belongings inside the backpacks of the student.” There were also brief stories on top of some of the backpacks for the students to read about the ones who committed suicide.
According to the organization, “90% of people who die by suicide struggled with a treatable mental health disorder at the time of their death.” Ruiz said, “The reason why we are here is to provide students, faculty and staff resources regarding mental health and mental health disorders that are both on and off campus.” Send Silence Packing travels all around the country to reach out to see how they can help make a difference to people who have mental disabilities and to prevent them from committing suicide.
Some of the students at COD found the exhibit to be very beneficial. “It was very impactful and it sent a strong message forward on the impact it had on people’s lives,” said COD student, Jorge Rivera. “There is always going to be little flags or signs, so if people paid more attention to those little signs, I believe we can save more lives.” Organizers believe the more aware peopler are of mental health issues, the better we can lower the rate of suicide.
Ultimately, the Send Silence Packing organization visiting COD seemed to be a positive and influential experience. “Send Silence Packing is a super beneficial display because a lot of people do not realize that one in four adults in the U.S. are living with a mental health disorder,” Ruiz said. “We want people to feel that they can get better, and there is always hope and treatment is effective.”