The sight of 1,100 backpacks strewn across a college quadrangle is striking -- especially when each backpack represents a college student who lost his or her life to suicide.
In an effort to “Send Silence Packing,” the Collin College chapter of the national Active Minds Inc. student advocacy group is recognizing the annual 1,100 college suicides across the country by sharing the stories of these individuals.
Free and open to the public, the poignant display will be available from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Central Park Campus quadrangle, near the library, 2200 W. University Drive in McKinney.
In the event of inclement weather, the display will be moved to the college’s conference center.
At 10 a.m. Oct. 16, Collin College District President Cary Israel and McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller will speak to students, professors, community organization leaders and community members on the critical need to educate people about this issue.
According to Amy Trombley, Collin College Active Minds advisor, in 2005 Texas had a suicide rate of 10.4 (deaths per 100,000). Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the state, and the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. The Collin County suicide rate was 9.2.
"I attended 'Send Silence Packing' in Maryland, and I saw a girl kneel down by a backpack and attach a note. It was her brother’s backpack. Suicide is twice as prevalent as homicide in the U.S.
"Active Minds wants anyone contemplating suicide to know how many people would miss them and that there are a lot of resources available," Trombley said.
The Collin College Active Minds chapter is the only community college chapter in the state. Collin College is the first college in Texas to host a “Send Silence Packing” event.
Since its 2006 founding, the award-winning Collin College Active Minds chapter has received a 5-Star rating, the highest rating possible, joining the ranks of Rice University and the University of North Texas.
Visit www.collin.edu for more information.
Collin College serves nearly 53,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.
About the author: Marisela Cadena-Smith is Director of Marketing & Communications at Collin College.