Above / The sobering sight of students’ backpacks in the Send Silence Packing event is a poignant reminder of a quote used on the big screen at the recent Project HELP breakfast. “Stop texting. Start talking.” The Annual Project HELP Breakfast: “Community Begins at Home” aims to shed light on how a community can work together to strengthen families that will, in turn, strengthen the community. Today’s event at North Central College, organized by SamaraCare and Linden Oaks, is another way to connect and openly communicate.
According to organizers at SamaraCare, this nationally-recognized traveling exhibit through Active Minds features donated backpacks representing college students lost to suicide each year. The program is designed to raise awareness about the incidence and impact of suicide, connect students to needed mental health resources, and inspire action for suicide prevention.
Backpacks have been displayed since early this morning, giving a visual representation of the scope of the problem and the number of victims.
Since the inaugural display in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, DC, Send Silence Packing has traveled to more than 140 cities in states across the country. Program evaluation data reveals that individuals leave the display wanting to learn more about mental health.
Ninety-five percent of survey respondents rate the display as powerful or very powerful and 97 percent report that it is educational. Evaluations also show that the majority of visitors tell three or more people about Send Silence Packing and many reach out to a friend in need or seek help for themselves as a result of seeing the program.
Jefferson at Brainard
According to Karen Doyle, Director of Advancement and Outreach for SamaraCare, considering the size of North Central College, Active Minds anticipates at least 1,000 students will see the event. In addition, since the event is being held on the lawn in the heart of downtown Naperville at Jefferson and Brainard, Send Silence Packing will be experienced by countless community members and passersby.
“This is an amazing opportunity to educate, and inspire our community and the more we talk about this event the greater impact it will have,” said Doyle.
SamaraCare and Linden Oaks worked collaboratively to bring the exhibit to Naperville to connect students with mental health resources.
For more information about SamaraCare (formerly Samaritan Interfaith Counseling Services), visit samaracarecounseling.org/.