Suicide awareness art exhibit tours Southland college campuses

Courtesy of Send Silence Packing

A student approaches a backpack that is part of a Send Silence Packing exhibit. The project is currently touring around the Southland.

A traveling public exhibit on suicide awareness and prevention among college students is touring universities throughout the Southland.

The art installation is currently on exhibit at the College of the Desert campus in the Coachella Valley, and is themed around the phrase "Send Silence Packing." Each installation consists of more than 1,000 school backpacks spread across the ground over a large area. Sometimes the backpacks lie in long, uniform rows like gravestones; other times they’re arranged in a colorful jumble fanning out across a green field.

The backpacks represent the approximate number of college students who commit suicide every year in the United States. Each bag tells one student’s story; who they were, what they achieved and what they’d hoped to accomplish in the future. Friends and family members of the deceased donated the backpacks to the exhibit.

Organizers say each bag is meant to convey the message that suicide prevention is not just about lowering statistics, but about saving the life of someone you may know. During the next two weeks the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit will also visit the campuses of Mt. San Jacinto College, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, USC and UCLA.

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