OSWEGO, NY – In an effort to shed light on the tragedy of college student suicide and start a dialogue about a heavily stigmatized topic, Active Minds at SUNY Oswego will host Send Silence Packing, a public education display of 1,100 donated backpacks representing the 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year.
“In 2012, Send Silence Packing came to our campus, but since then, we have been touched by suicide within the campus community and greater Oswego community. We must continue these life-saving conversations,” Active Minds advisor, Melanie Hoffman, told Oswego County Today. “At the last display, we received an anonymous post-it note on one of the tables that read ‘I was contemplating suicide, but after seeing this display, I am going to make an appointment at Creekside Counseling instead.’ If up until then we were unsure if these events and conversations matter, that post-it note gave us concrete evidence that this mental health destigmatization movement is necessary.”
Send Silence Packing was developed by Active Minds, Inc., the leading voice for college student mental health in the United States. Active Minds was formed in 2001 by Alison Malmon during her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania following the suicide of her older brother, 22-year-old Brian Malmon.
The national organization has collected and continues to collect backpacks and personal stories in memory of loved ones lost to suicide.
By displaying backpacks with personal stories that put a “face” to the lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but about saving the lives of students, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation.
Active Minds at SUNY Oswego encourages all members of the Oswego County community to come view the display on April 24 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., in the Marano Campus Center.
The group will be passing out information about mental health, student suicide, and where to go to seek help.
Information tables and activities will also be provided throughout the day.
“I am actually not sure of stats in Oswego or SUNY Oswego. To my knowledge, there haven’t been any suicides at SUNY Oswego during the semester. But, in the past three years alone, I know of two students in July 2012 who died by suicide and one student who was not enrolled at school but was still involved with a SUNY Oswego fraternity died by suicide last year,” Hoffman said. “The stats for college students are that 1,100 college students die by suicide each year. That number is only increasing, due to lack of effective coping skills and the stigma of mental health and getting help.”
Of the 1,100 backpacks in total, 200 of them will be backpacks with personalized stories about individuals written by their loved ones.
There will also be information about mental health resources from Active Minds, SAVE Central NY (a community based suicide prevention group), and Counseling and Healing Arts of Oswego County will be represented.
SAVE and Counseling and Healing Arts are major community resources, as well as other mental health practices: Heather Rice, LMHC, Creekside Counseling Services, Integrative Counseling Services and Beacon Psychological Healthcare, Hoffman said.
Common warning signs include having suicidal ideation (thoughts) feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, increased substance use, any significant changes in mood (anxiety, depression, anger) or appearance (such as in weight or hygiene), isolation or withdrawal, feelings of purposelessness, feeling trapped, recklessness.
But there are ways to get help, Hoffman said.
Reach out to counseling at one of the community agencies.
The Counseling Services Center on campus sees enrolled SUNY Oswego students, has morning and afternoon crisis walk-in hours, and an afterhours service called Protocol which students can access by dialing the CSC number after hours and being prompted to push “2.”
Also, the National Suicide Prevention hotline 1 (800) 273-8255 can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
About Active Minds
Active Minds is the leading voice in college student mental health and supports a rapidly growing network of more than 300 student-run chapters on colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.
All chapters work towards one goal: to create a campus culture where it is OK to speak openly about mental health and seek help.
A national non-profit headquartered in Washington D.C., Active Minds empowers students to change the conversation about mental health one campus at a time.
To learn more, visit www.activeminds.org
For more information about Send Silence Packing and the Spring 2012 Tour, visit www.sendsilencepacking.org