RIVERSIDE (CBS) —  A traveling exhibit intended to raise awareness about the epidemic of suicides on college campuses will be at UC Riverside next week.

The “Send Silence Packing” display is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday next to the campus bell tower.

The exhibit features 1,100 backpacks strewn on the ground, representing the average number of students who take their own lives every year.

Some of the carry cases bear pictures and stories of suicide victims.

“This is a very emotional representation of suicide, depression and mental health concerns that many students may experience,” said Stacey Grady, UCR’s mental health educator. “Stress, relationships, being away from home for the first time, or just being at an age when many mental health illness is diagnosed make this a very vulnerable time for students.”

The Send Silence Packing exhibit, which is in its fourth year, has been to 29 cities. The UCR chapter of Active Minds, a national organization started 10 years ago by a woman who lost her sibling to suicide, is sponsoring the Riverside visit.

“Students don’t view mental health in the same way as physical health,” said Reissa Decena, president of UCR Active Minds. “If someone breaks a bone, they would get that treated. But when they have mental illness, they often won’t seek medical treatment. That can be very detrimental.”

According to statistics, half of all college students have had suicidal thoughts, with 1 in 10 seriously contemplating suicide.

The exhibit also gives advice to students who are depressed of dealing with mental illness and resources that can help them.

On Nov. 8, Active Minds will host a talk by Jordan Burnham titled “A Lesson in Living.” The young man will discuss how mounting home and scholastic pressures led him to attempt to kill himself by leaping from the top of a nine-story building.

For more information about Send Silence Packing, click here for their website.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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