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1,100 backpacks to raise awareness of student suicides

By Corey Broman-Fulks | Emory Report | Oct. 29, 2012

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Send Silence Packing, a traveling exhibit of backpacks representing U.S. college students who have committed suicide, comes to Emory on Nov. 1.

More than 1,100 college students commit suicide every year across the country. To help raise awareness, the Emory University chapter of Active Minds is sponsoring an event on the Emory Quadrangle on Thursday, Nov. 1 called Send Silence Packing.

A traveling exhibit of roughly 1,100 backpacks will fill the Quad to represent each college student in the U.S. who has taken his or her life in the last year. The bags are donated by the families of suicide victims and will contain stories of the loved one as well as some personal belongings.   

A ceremony at 1 p.m. on the Quad will honor all Emory students who have been lost to suicide.  

"We hope that the ceremony will honor not only those students who we have lost and dearly miss, but also acknowledge students who are in pain and have not yet made the decision to get help," says Mark McLeod, director of Emory's Student Counseling Center.  

Active Minds is a national organization designed to help raise awareness of mental health issues for college students and young adults.  

Emory's Active Minds chapter is one of the oldest in the nation, has received the highest ranking for several years, and has presented workshops at the National Active Minds conference.  

The Send Silence Packing events started in 2008 with the first display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, the traveling exhibit has visited 39 cities and 19 states across the country, according to the Active Minds website. This year is the first time the backpack display has come to the South.