Jamrich Hall's main lobby was filled with 1,100 backpacks on Monday, to represent the approximate number of undergraduate students in the country who commit suicide each year. The NMU chapter of Active Minds, a national mental health advocacy organization, brought a touring exhibit titled "Send Silence Packing" to campus. Students who paused to reflect on the display said it was a powerful way to raise awareness.
“Everywhere I looked, there was not a dry eye looking at the exhibit," said student Hanna Johnson. "It was the painful reality that everyone knows about, but is too scared to talk about. Seeing the physical backpacks represented the physical lives that were lost.”
“I have a lot of close friends and family members who struggle with their mental health, so everything we do through Active Minds and the 'Mind Your Health' awaress campaign is very personal and important to me,” said Sadie Knill, who is co-president with Chloe Wilkinson. “I think it went over really well. After engaging with students and giving them more information about what the display was about, I think that it really made an impact. A lot of people recognize that mental heath is an overwhelming problem, but the display quantified just how large the problem is.”
Active Minds had trained professionals on site to provide information about the warning signs of suicide, guidance for friends of those who may be suffering, and resources for those seeking help and distribute prevantative materials and resources.
Mind Your Health NMU is a student-run campaign focused on reducing the stigma and increasing mental health awareness.
"Send Silence Packing" is a traveling display through the national Active Minds organization that visits 30-40 schools and communities each year.