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 Suicide Awareness Display to Stop at NWTC

 3/21/2014

 Rodee Schneider

 

A nationally-recognized public education exhibit of 1,100 backpacks – representing the number of college students who die by suicide every year – will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Green Bay Campus in the Commons (2740 W. Mason St., Green Bay, WI). The Send Silence Packing® display, presented by national nonprofit Active Minds, works to engage students in a conversation about mental health.

The powerful exhibit of 1,100 donated backpacks helps shed light on college student suicide and promotes a healthy dialogue around mental health. To give a “face” to the lives lost, personal stories and stories 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.

SendSilencePackingsmall.jpgThe exhibit tells you the story of the actual people behind the statistics,” said Paul Valencic, an NWTC counselor. “We don’t talk enough about suicide, despite it being the second leading cause of death among college students.”

In addition, Active Minds staff, NWTC counselors, and representatives from Family Services of Brown County – who run the suicide hotline – and NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will hand out literature on mental health, suicide prevention and where to seek help.

It’s important to connect our students with campus and community resources,” said Valencic. “They may only be at the college for a few years, but we want them to know there will always be groups out there who can help.”

Active Minds was established in 2003 by Alison Malmon – then a junior at the University of Pennsylvania – after tragically losing her only brother, 22-year-old Brian Malmon, to suicide.

“Active Minds has worked for 10 years to fight stigmas and raise awareness about mental health, but our work is never over,” said Malmon, now the executive director of Active Minds, Inc. “Send Silence Packing is a powerful visual of the victims and survivors of suicide and lets every student, parent, brother, sister and friend know if they are depressed or suicidal, they are not alone and that there is help.”

The Spring 2014 tour kicks off on Wednesday, March 26 at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and will travel to 10 additional locations throughout the Midwest, closing with a city display in Twin Cities, Minn. on April 30.

This 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 300,000 people in 85 cities throughout the country have experienced Send Silence Packing. For more information, including a complete list of the Spring 2014 tour dates and locations, 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.