Send Silence Packing.

Many of the backpacks on display in the Yard were paired with the stories of the students who carried them.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Starting a conversation on college suicide

2 min read

Display of 1,000 backpacks aims to Send Silence Packing

More than 1,000 backpacks dotted Harvard Yard on Friday, representing the lives of college students lost to suicide every year. Send Silence Packing was hosted by the Harvard chapter of Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for young adults.

The emotional display, which first came to the Yard last year, included knapsacks donated by people who have lost loved ones. Many of the backpacks were paired with the stories of the students who carried them. The bags were placed on chairs and on the lawn throughout the Yard, with members of the organization standing ready to answer questions and provide resources to onlookers.

Clinicians from Harvard University Health Services’ Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were also on hand during the event.

Active Minds launched its inaugural Send Silence Packing in 2008 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In the years since, the display has visited between 60 and 80 schools and communities each year. It aims to encourage people to seek out mental health resources, inspire action for suicide prevention, and contribute to conversations regarding community mental health.

If you’re a student who needs to speak with a counselor about a mental health concern, you can reach the CAMHS Cares Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 617.495.2042. Additional resources can be found on the CAMHS website. If you need to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, dial 988. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available nationwide and provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.