Students slowed their pace while walking through Central Mall on Wednesday to view over 1,000 backpacks distributed across the ground. Some glanced down while passing by and others stopped to read the attached laminated pieces of paper decorated with words and photos.
The display was the Send Silence Packing exhibit sponsored by Marquette’s chapter of Active Minds. Each backpack represents 1,100 college students nationwide who die from suicide each year. The papers included stories and words of remembrance from family and friends of the victims.
“It almost feels like a graveyard here,” said Jenny Fischer, a freshman in the College of Communication. “It’s especially scary because you get to read the stories and see the pictures. There’s such an issue in our society but people tend to shove suicide and the talk of it under the rug.”
The exhibit, put on by Active Minds, Inc., stopped at Marquette during its national tour to educate students about mental health. MU Active Minds members stood near the exhibit and provided informational flyers about the display and suicide prevention.
“This exhibit is really powerful and I think that it’s going to draw people’s attention and start really important conversations about mental health and the stigma against it,” said Ashley Morgan, MU Active Minds member and a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “I am actually really excited that Marquette was chosen to be part of the Send Silence Packing tour.”
Marquette is one out of 11 schools in the Midwest and California chosen for the exhibit’s fall 2015 tour.
Lee Duffy-Ledbetter is the Send Silence Packing Coordinator for Active Minds, Inc. and travels with the exhibit to each location on the tour.
“It is incredibly important that this sort of messaging comes to university’s and non-college communities,” Duffy-Ledbetter said. “We want to echo the messaging of Active Minds here that it is O.K. to see help.”