A sobering display about suicide fills the Humanities Building lawn at Santiago Canyon College in Orange on Monday.
The community college's Psychology Department and Psychological Services join the national student mental health advocacy nonprofit Active Minds in hosting Send Silence Packing, a display of 1,100 donated backpacks representing the 1,100 college students lost to suicide every year.
The display comes to the hills of Orange partly through the efforts of Cristian Dominguez, a 21-year-old psychology major and member of the campus Active Minds chapter. He has said Send Silence Packing speaks to his own struggles with anxiety and hopes it starts a dialogue at Santiago Canyon about mental health topics.
“The amount of support that we have received for this event is something that I won’t forget,” Dominguez says in a press release from the college. “It’s so hard getting students to participate at a commuter school and the students have really rallied around this event to offer what help they can give. It has started an important conversation on mental health that we, as students, need to be having.”
The display will be up through 4 p.m. Monday. That morning, at 10:15, David Romano speaks in H-106. He's the founder and sole participant of Bike Across America for Mental Health Campaign, a journey which covers 3,200 miles and 12 states in six weeks to support Active Minds. His presentation, dealing with his own mental illness and ongoing path to recovery, is called “It Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.”
Send Silence Packing's Santiago Canyon appearance is completely funded by the Los Angeles-based Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation, which was formed after the suicide of the founder’s son. With suicide being the third leading cause of death for those ages 15-24, the foundation is dedicated to combating it and promoting candid dialogue about mental health.
The group has funded several Send Silence Packing displays throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties. It was on view Sept. 28 at Cal State Fullerton, Sept. 29 at Cerritos College and Oct. 3 at Cal State Long Beach.
For more information about Send Silence Packing or Active Minds at SCC, contact Emma Breeden at 714.628.4995 or email Breeden_Emma@sccollege.edu.