University of the Ozarks will host the powerful suicide awareness exhibit “Send Silence Packing” on Monday, Sept. 27, on the campus mall.
The national traveling exhibit is presented by Active Minds, a Washington, D.C. organization dedicated to raising awareness of suicide and mental health issues. The exhibit is being held in conjunction with National Suicide Awareness Month in September and is being sponsored by the University’s Office of Student Affairs and Office of Counseling Services.
Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the exhibit will include approximately 1,000 backpacks placed across the U of O campus mall, each one representing a life touched by suicide. Every backpack tells a personal story and shares images and artifacts of survivors and those lost to suicide.
Kaethe D. Hoehling, the University’s director of counseling services, said the exhibit aims to show students that they are not alone in dealing with mental health issues and can also inspire people to learn how they can help prevent suicide.
“This very special and powerful national travelling exhibit is all about lives touched by despair and tragedy but it is also about hope,” said Hoehling. “Hope that there are people who care, ways to nourish life, and ways to find small rays of light, even in the darkest moments. Powerful human needs deserve powerful and purposeful attention.”
Hoehling said the goal of the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit is “to encourage us to take pause, even if only briefly, and to engage us to consider and converse about this difficult issue.”
Taylor Plugge, director of student engagement, said the Office of Student Life “is honored to partner with Counseling Services in bringing this powerful exhibit to our campus. We want to support our students and their mental health and let them know we are here for them. It is our hope the ‘Send Silence Packing’ event will help raise awareness on our campus and in the surrounding Johnson County area.”
The University will offer support and information for students throughout the day of the exhibit.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among students, according to Active Minds, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues. According to Active Minds, 39 percent of college students experience a significant mental health issue, and two-thirds of students with anxiety or depression don’t seek treatment.
The “Send Silence Packing” exhibit debuted in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, nearly 950,000 people have viewed the exhibit at more than 200 locations, according to the organization.