Marquette Wire

Send Silence Packing backpack display aims to raise awareness of college suicide

Members+of+Marquette%27s+chapter+of+Active+Minds.+Photo+by+Maredithe+Meyer+%2Fmaredithe.meyer%40marquette.edu
Members of Marquette's chapter of Active Minds. Photo by Maredithe Meyer /maredithe.meyer@marquette.edu

Members of Marquette's chapter of Active Minds. Photo by Maredithe Meyer /maredithe.meyer@marquette.edu

Members of Marquette's chapter of Active Minds. Photo by Maredithe Meyer /maredithe.meyer@marquette.edu

Maredithe Meyer, Health Reporter

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1,100 backpacks will be scattered across Central Mall Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to represent the number of college students who take their own lives each year.

Marquette’s Active Minds chapter is displaying the Send Silence Packing exhibit, which travels nationally via Active Minds, Inc., in an effort to eliminate stigma surrounding mental health and educate students on campus suicide. Marquette is one of 11 locations in the exhibit’s fall 2015 tour, which started Sept. 14 at Ball State University in Indiana.

“You can hear the statistics and you can conceptualize how powerful this is, but once you see it and it’s a demonstration in front of you, it becomes very real and I think that’s the power of this exhibit,” said Jessica Camarillo, MU Active Minds’ head of publicity and a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Families and friends of suicide victims donated the backpacks and wrote personal stories in memory of those who died. Students can walk through the exhibit, read the stories and learn about suicide prevention.

“Every backpack is the representation of a family and all of their struggles and their loss, so each backpack itself is incredibly important to somebody out there,” said Lauren Carufel-Wert, MU Active Minds’ researcher and a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

MU Active Minds’s adviser and campus counselor Nick Jenkins encouraged students to visit the Counseling Center if they are affected by the exhibit.

“You get drawn into all the stories and once you read one, you read the next one and the next one and I think that’s what its going to do for (MU students),” said MU Active Minds’ treasurer Michelle Frederick, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration. “They’re not going to realize how much of an impact it’s going to have until they read that first backpack.”

Active Minds will donate an MU-branded backpack in memory of Charles Kubly, a 28-year-old who took his life in 2003. MU Active Minds’ president Markie Pasternak, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the Charles E. Kubly Foundation donated $3,000 to help Marquette fund the exhibit.

In addition, Kubly’s parents made a $5 million gift to the College of Health Sciences to create the Charles E. Kubly Mental Health Research Center in January.

The exhibit’s tour travels throughout the Midwest and California. This will be Marquette’s second time displaying Send Silence Packing, its first was in 2010.

Frederick said she experienced Send Silence Packing on a different campus and she credits that in her choice of joining Active Minds at Marquette.

Active Minds, Inc. first displayed Send Silence Packing in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, 320,500 people in 98 cities have seen it, according to Active Minds, Inc. The New York Times and NBC Nightly News recently featured the exhibit.

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