Submitted by Marisela Cadena-Smith of Collin College
The 1,100 backpacks to be strewn across a college quadrangle will be a striking site, 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 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, McKinney. In the event of inclement weather, the display will be moved to the college’s conference center. At 10 a.m. on Oct. 16, Collin College District President Cary Israel and Mayor of McKinney 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 tenth leading cause of death in the state, and the third leading cause of death for 15-24 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 the “Send Silence Packing” event. Since its 2006 founding, the award-winning Collin College Active Minds chapter has received the 5-Star rating, the highest rating possible, joining the ranks of Rice University and the University of North Texas.