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'Send Silence Packing' - Backpack display remembers suicide deaths

Bucknell University in Lewisburg hosted a display aimed at stopping the silence and stigma around suicide.

LEWISBURG, Pa. — It's not unusual to see students with backpacks at Bucknell University, but it's not every day those backpacks are displayed across campus. Each one represents someone who died by suicide.

"A bunch of backpacks have personal stories on them, and some of those stories are written by families who have lost loved ones from suicide," said senior Joe Roffer.

The display is called Send Silence Packing. It was organized by Bucknell's chapter of Active Minds, a group that focuses on raising mental health awareness and reducing the stigma.

If you need help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

Seniors Hunter Thomas and Joe Roffer are co-presidents of the club.

"I was looking for things to do, and I found Active Minds. I reached out to the president, and he said the club was no longer a thing. I figured I would try and bring it back to life in hopes of helping kids in a similar situation," Roffer said.

There were nearly 1,000 backpacks.

"People have seemed to really appreciate it and really resonate with it. We've had people tell their own personal stories. Letting them know that we are there for them and there are resources available for them," Thomas said.

In addition to seeing all of the backpacks, the students got to take a mental health break and play with therapy dogs.

"It can't be understated how important it is. To raise awareness around mental health from a student-to-student voice is incredible," said Kelly Kettlewell, Bucknell University director of counseling and student development.

The organizers say they plan to do more events like this in the future.

Click here to learn the risk factors for suicide.

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