Preview story: “Send Silence Packing” illustrates a heartbreaking statistic: 1,100 college students die by suicide each year.

The Active Minds’ national traveling exhibit of 1,100 backpacks, each telling the personal story of a young person lost to suicide, will make its only Northern California stop at Sacramento State on Monday, Oct. 5.

“Send Silence Packing” will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Library Quad (or in The WELL lobby, in case of rain). Members of the campus community will be able to walk among the backpacks donated by family and friends in memory of their loved ones, and read the stories about students who took their own lives.

Representatives from Sacramento State’s Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS) and the Active Minds Peer Education Program will be on hand to offer literature about suicide prevention and mental health resources.

“Bringing ‘Send Silence Packing’ to campus demonstrates Sacramento State’s commitment to our students’ well-being and mental health,” says Jennifer Burton, a SHCS health educator. “The exhibit gives us the opportunity to start a dialogue on a topic that is hard for many people to discuss.

“The exhibit will let students know they aren’t alone and that support and resources are available to them on campus. We encourage students to utilize our services, either for themselves or to support a friend.”

Sac State’s chapter of Active Minds provides outreach, awareness campaigns, interactive workshops, and presentations to the campus community under the direct supervision of SHCS staff. To learn more, go to

Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and combating the stigma surrounding it. “Send Silence Packing” debuted in 2008 on the National Mall. Since then, more than 320,000 people in 98 cities have experienced the exhibit.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. According to Active Minds, more than half of college students have had suicidal thoughts, and one in 10 seriously consider attempting suicide. In addition, half of the students who have suicidal thoughts never seek counseling or treatment. – Dixie Reid


In the media:

"Grim exhibit at Sacramento State meant to get students talking about suicide," The Sacramento Bee

"Sacramento State promotes suicide prevention by 'Sending Silence Packing,' " KFBK