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EMU Exhibit Makes Suicide More Visible

Sep 21, 2015

It's difficult to start a conversation about depression with nearly anyone at any age. With busy schedules, high expectations, and less life experience than many older adults, college students may be a more challenging demographic to reach for mental health professionals. 

Breaking open a conversation about depression is what an outdoor exhibit at Eastern Michigan University aims to do. 'Send Silence Packing' gathers backpacks from families who have lost a college-aged student to suicide. On Monday, September 21, 1,100 backpacks will be displayed on EMU's mall.

The idea is to get students and teachers talking about mental health by being a visual reminder of the lives lost to suicide in colleges across the U.S.

Ellen Gold is EMU's assistant Vice President of Student Well-being.

She says, "The backpacks actually...contain stories in them from families and friends of students that commit suicide. It's a way to open up the conversation."

Each backpack represents the average number of college students who commit suicide each year. EMU junior Terrance Arnold says the display had a impact on him. He says, "I really felt really devastated because these are issues I’m going through myself.”

'Send Silence Packing' is currently on a college campus tour across the Midwest this fall. 

Amanda LeClaire is an assignment reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact her at 734.487.3363 or email her: aleclair@emich.edu