The 1,100 backpacks on the ground at UC Irvine were not left by students who dropped everything and made mad dashes to Anthill Pub for the fall release of The Bruery's Autumn Maple ale. Today's display is part of a traveling exhibit focusing on a topic very relevant to UCI: student suicide.
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The nationally recognized exhibit titled "Send Silence Packing" includes 1,100 backpacks donated by families of students who died by suicide. That number also coincides with the number of students who take their own lives each year. Personal stories and testimonies written by families and friends accompany the backpacks.
The display is a program of Active Minds, a nonprofit with 400 student-led chapters at high schools, colleges and universities across the country working to engage students in the conversation about mental health. Learn more at ActiveMinds.org/SendSilencePacking.
The exhibit coincides with the organization's 12th National Mental Health on Campus Conference in the UCI Student Center today through Sunday. Featured speakers include: Melissa Rivers, the television host, producer and daughter of the late Joan Rivers and Edgar Rosenberg (who committed suicide); Pablo Campos, who attempted suicide during high school and is now the Active Minds chapter president at Pensacola State College; and Sam Dylan Finch, a freelance writer, blogger and queer activist in the Bay Area, who covers mental health issues.