Send Silence Packing initiative makes its way to Alcorn State University

Over 100 empty book bags were spread among Alcorn State University’s campus green in honor of those who committed suicide.

Alcorn’s Active Minds Chapter presented the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit on campus Tuesday, March 21 to represent the number of college students who die by suicide each year. Attached on the bags were the stories of suicide victims from across the country.

“Send Silence Packing” was first unveiled in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, more than 200,000 people in over 100 cities throughout the country have experienced the traveling exhibit.

Dani Lukens, an outreach coordinator for Active Minds who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012, got involved with the organization after almost losing her best friend to suicide. That experience was confirmation that she was meant to make an impact in the lives of those struggling with mental illness.

“The thought of losing my best friend really affected my life,” said Lukens. “I couldn’t imagine my life without him, so I knew that I had to get involved with spreading awareness about mental illness. Active Minds is an amazing organization that I’m proud to be a part of.”

Some of the University’s students took time to read some of the stories attached to the book bags. Akia Wright, a senior, felt that it was a great way for the organization to shed light on the victims’ stories.

“This is a nice way to remember those who died, and it’s great that they gave us their story so that we could know a little about them,” said Akia. “It’s interesting to learn the signs of suicide so that you can help before it reaches a breaking point.”

The exhibit was an eye opening experience for Gabriel Holmes, a junior. He said that the stories changed his outlook on life.

“Seeing these stories really makes me appreciate life more,” said Gabriel. “These students could have lived successful lives had they gotten help. They left before their time, so it makes me grateful to still be alive, and it makes me aware of suicide and its warning signs.”

Dr. Martha Ravola, assistant vice president for academic program support in Academic Affairs, said that the initiative was perfect for spreading the message about mental illness on campus.

“The visual campaign has definitely sparked a conversation on mental health at Alcorn,” said Ravola. “It was moving to watch students, faculty and staff read the stories with teary eyes, share their experiences and express the need to identify the behavioral health needs of our students.”

If you, or someone you know, are battling with mental health issues, contact Alcorn’s Counseling Services at (601) 877-6230.

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