Suicide is the second leading cause of death among students, according to Active Minds, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.
Cal Poly Pomona displayed more than 1,000 backpacks representing the number of college students in the United States who are lost to suicide. It was part of the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit, which travels across the country to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide.
At the April 15 event, members of the campus community walked among the backpacks to read the student stories and to see the photographs attached to them. Many of the backpacks were donated by the families who lost a student to suicide.
The exhibit aims to show students that they are not alone in dealing with mental health issues, said Leticia Gutierrez-Lopez, associate vice president for student health and wellbeing. The exhibit can also inspire people to learn how they can help prevent suicide.
“Over the last several years we have seen a steady increase in students with serious mental health issues,” Gutierrez-Lopez said. “It’s important for people to know that mental illness is treatable and suicide is preventable.”
According to Active Minds, 39 percent of college students experience a significant mental health issue, and two-thirds of students with anxiety or depression don’t seek treatment.
During the event, staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, Disability Resource Center, Integrated Care Network and other offices in the Student Health and Wellbeing cluster answered questions, connected students to services, and shared information about mental health services provided on-campus and in the community.
Cal Poly Pomona offers students a range of health and wellness services on campus, including 11 full-time mental health counselors and an Integrated Care Network. During the 2017-18 academic year, members of the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) worked with more than 1,060 students in one-on-one counselling sessions and crisis interventions.
The “Send Silence Packing” exhibit debuted in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, nearly 950,000 people have viewed the exhibit at more than 200 locations, according to the organization.