GMU backpacks to send suicide silence packing

WASHINGTON — Wednesday, Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and a powerful traveling exhibit will kick off a fall tour with its first stop at Virginia’s George Mason University.

Each year, 1,100 students die by committing suicide; the visually powerful exhibit will drive home the scope and seriousness of this issue plaguing college campuses nationwide.

The exhibit is called “Send Silence Packing.” It’s a collection of 1,100 backpacks, on display in a central location, once owned by college students whose lives were lost to suicide. Many of the backpacks were donated by family and friends of a suicide victim. Personal stories will also give a face to the young lives that were lost.

The goal of the exhibit is to get college students talking about the taboo topic of mental health. It’s about getting the conversation started, raising awareness and working toward prevention and helping save young lives.

It was first displayed in 2008 on the National Mall. Since then, 300,000 people in 85 cities have experienced the exhibit which is run by Active Minds, a mental health awareness nonprofit.

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