The “Send Silence Packing” immersive exhibit is designed to create awareness and end the silence surrounding issues of suicide. Each of the 1,000 backpacks in the exhibit represents a person who took their own life, while also sharing the impact of that loss. When the backpacks were set up at Siena College (NY), they impacted junior and wellness orientation leader Trinity Hogben. “A lot of these stories you read are about college-aged students, and how a lot of people didn’t even realize that the person who passed away from suicide was going through what they were going through," she said.

There’s a significantly increased demand for mental health services at Siena, as at many colleges, according to Associate Director of the Counseling Center Tom Templeton. “And I think sometimes, suicide sort of creeps into their [students] minds. But they’re not always aware of the impact, the gravity of what it could mean. And I think this exhibit helps frame the reality that very often, suicide is a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem,” said Templeton.

Read more about the exhibit here.