You’re not alone in the search for help

Active Minds group hosts annual Send Silence Packing exhibit to promote suicide awareness


Connor Dewick

Backpacks organized in piles and lines in the Hamilton Room of the James R. Connor University Center, most with descriptions explaining the lives of those who claimed their own, Oct. 5, 2021.

Aaron Xiong, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

As you walk past someone on the street in the halls of a building, you may not know what they’re going through. Thoughts of pain and suffering could be racing through someone’s mind, but those close to them may never know due to the fact that many believe silence is a way of coping with their problems. However, the Active Minds on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus are trying to change that stigma.

Serving as the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students, Active Minds’ goal is to begin opening up the conversation about mental health issues. Their Send Silence Packing exhibit allows the students on the UW-Whitewater campus to view various stories of families and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. Several backpacks placed around the Hamilton Room contain stories and photos of individuals who have lost their lives. 

“My friend’s brother died of suicide and I didn’t even know that he was suffering from depression until we got older,” said junior Andrew Pena. “I felt a sense of guilt because I felt like I could’ve helped him more. However, my friends and I petitioned to create a chandelier of gummy bears at our school due to his love of gummy bears and thankfully the school created one in his name.”

By empowering students to speak up about their health as well as giving them the platform to explain their stories, Active Minds hopes the narrative of staying silent will change once more individuals come forward about their struggles with mental health.

“I think some people stay silent because they don’t feel others can understand or help their situation,” says sophomore Sierra Loughlin. “I think by staying informed about mental health and seeking a professional, they can hopefully better their situation.”

About half of the current U.S population know someone who has lost their life to suicide. This astronomical number further proves the fact that suicide is a problem that we must talk about more often. Active Minds helps promote resources both in and outside of our campus community for those seeking help. Through exhibits and events like Send Silence Packing, the organization wants everyone to know that mental health is treatable and suicide can be prevented.

“Anytime you feel weak or down, just know it’s ok to take some time to yourself. Talk to those you trust, and surround yourself with the things and people you love. You’re not alone in the fight,” says senior Kyle Scheel.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number: 800-273-8255