Photos by Candice Ge, Staff Photographer
Send Silence Packing, a sobering mental health awareness event, displayed 1,100 backpacks on Oct. 12 across the Student Resource Building hosted by University of California, Santa Barbara Active Minds with support from Each Mind Matters. The display is one of the many significant steps necessary to create an environment where we can talk about something as common in our society as mental health.
For the first time since the program’s commencement in 2008, and its national recognition, Send Silence Packing was hosted at UCSB, with the 1,100 backpacks representing the number of college suicide deaths that occur each year. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is a leading cause of death among college and university students in the United States.
Active Minds aims to empower students to change the perception of mental health on college campuses, as stated on their national website. Additionally, the website states that people aged 18-24 have the lowest rate of help-seeking, compared to older individuals. Furthermore, it is safe to say that the event’s goal of spreading awareness and starting a conversation was accomplished.
The backpacks were donated by the family and friends of suicide victims themselves, with several of them containing a description or story of the person. Many who observed the event found that some of the backpacks contained personal artifacts from the deceased, adding little pieces of reality to the symbolic display.
Melissa Boomer, UCSB co-president of Active Minds, hoped this event would open up dialogue about mental health on our campus, and help connect UCSB students with the resources to take the first step toward mental wellness.
“We are struggling [with mental health], especially at our age,” Boomer said. “It is not uncommon; we can talk about it.”
Each Mind Matters, calling themselves “California’s Mental Health Movement”, was also in attendance and provided information to educate individuals about the stigma around mental health. Each Mind Matters member Evan Olivas, discussed the importance of speaking out, as it not only affects adults and young adults but kids as well. Olivas gave information about Walk in Our Shoes, a campaign to reach out to kids at a young age. In addition, Each Mind Matters will be presenting the Directing Change Program, a contest of 60-second PSA videos to prevent suicide and change peoples’ perspectives on mental health.