THE BLOG
06/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Send Silence Packing

It's not often that you see a 14' box truck driving down the highway with the words "suicide" or "college mental health" on it. I'd have to say though, it's one of the best things I've ever seen.

Last week, Active Minds officially launched a 10-city US tour of its signature suicide awareness program, Send Silence Packing. Send Silence Packing is a public display of 1,100 donated backpacks representing the 1,100 college student lives lost to suicide each year. It is an aggressive, in-your-face campaign by Active Minds to promote a dialogue about mental health issues on college campuses and combat the incidence of student suicide. Through the campaign, we hope to evoke the concern of students, friends, parents, and administrators and demonstrate the enormity of loss that we all face when any young adult dies by suicide -- let alone the more than one thousand who do so each and every year. Active Minds has collected and continue to collect personal stories in memory or in honor of loved ones impacted by suicide to attach to the bags. By displaying backpacks with personal stories of loved ones that put a 'face' to lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but also about saving the lives of students, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation.

As the only national organization dedicated to utilizing the student voice to raise mental health awareness on college campuses, Active Minds works diligently to create spaces on campus that teach about mental health, mental health disorders, help-seeking, and hope. We believe that by empowering students and the student voice in mental health awareness, we will one day see when mental health issues are widely discussed, those who need help get it, and the number of tragic deaths due to suicide is reduced to 0.

Send Silence Packing was originally seen in 2008, but with a recent win in the Pepsi Refresh Everything competition this February, the program is on its first-ever US tour. With a launch just this week at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, the program -- 1,100 backpacks, more than 15,000 pieces of educational materials, and a 14' box truck with the words "help reduce college student suicide" plastered on it -- will travel 4,876 miles to be seen on campuses and public spaces in ten different states before wrapping up at the Ohio State University in early May. I encourage you to follow the tour, share your story, and get involved at www.sendsilencepacking.org. These issues are too quiet; those who have lost loved ones to suicide or thought about suicide themselves feel too alone. We need to be speaking these words daily, seeing these words on billboards and buses and trucks often, and understanding these words fully. Only with everyone's voice sharing stories and showing support, will we truly be able to save students' lives and send silence packing.

The Spring 2010 Send Silence Packing Tour

* Monday, April 12 - Oklahoma City, OK

* Friday, April 16 - University of Nebraska at Kearney (Kearney, NE)

* Monday, April 19 - University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY)

* Wednesday, April 21 - Montana State University (Bozeman, MT)

* Monday, April 26 - University of Minnesota Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)

* Wednesday, April 28 - Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI)

* Thursday, April 29 - Daley Plaza, Chicago, IL

* Monday, May 3* - The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) (display will be held on one day the week of May 3, date not yet finalized)