San José State University Hosts National Suicide Awareness Event

by | Apr 12, 2022 | Community Engagement

The Send Silence Packing exhibit, seen here on SJSU’s Tower Lawn, included 1,000 backpacks  — each one telling a personal story of suicide. © SJSU, Photo by Robert C. Bain

San José State University hosted a powerful and moving national traveling display on April 12 designed to change the conversation around suicide and mental health and connect participants to mental health resources.

Campus community members interacted with the Send Silence Packing display on the campus’ historic Tower Lawn. The event included 1,000 backpacks, a visual educational display to inspire people who may be struggling with mental health to seek help. Most of the backpacks contained stories and personal artifacts of those lost to suicide. The stories were written by loss survivors — friends or family members. Some backpacks also had stories from suicide attempt survivors to demonstrate recovery and hope.

Backpacks displayed on Town Lawn for the Send Silence Packing campaign.

The Send Silence Packing display on Tower Lawn spoke volumes to the SJSU community. © SJSU, Photo by Robert C. Bain

The event also included iPads containing videos of people who have died by suicide and suicide survivors sharing their stories about finding support and what helped them.

“Mental health and the awareness of suicidality are very important issues for our student population,” said Senior Director of Well-Being, Counseling and Psychological Services Kell Fujimoto. “We hope that the Send Silence Packing event will reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment and create a community of care for our students. We want students to reach out, support one another and help each other connect to resources.”

Mental health professionals from SJSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) were on-site to support people interacting with the backpacks and iPads. They offered them information about counseling services on and off-campus.

By the Numbers:  

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death by college students.
  • A majority of mental illnesses begin between ages 14-24.
  • 67% of young adults first tell a friend they feel suicidal before telling anyone else.
  • Two-thirds of students with anxiety or depression don’t seek treatment.

The Send Silence Packing suicide prevention event comes from Active Minds — a national nonprofit organization focused on fighting the stigma often associated with mental illness and seeking mental health support. Active Minds is present in 1,000 schools, communities and workplaces nationwide. It also has 600 student-led chapters, including at San José State University. 

The Send Silence Packing event has been displayed nearly 300 times at various locations across the nation.