This baggage is actually good for mental health


By Dan Landau

­September 14, 2017 — Backpacks lay across the grass, as far as the eye could see in nearly every direction. Send Silence Packing came to Fairleigh Dickinson University and they brought some baggage to help start a conversation about suicide.

Send Silence Packing is a traveling exhibit of donated backpacks, each of which  represents a college student who took their own lives. Approximately 1,000 lives are lost each year, nationwide. Produced by Active Minds, Inc. — a nonprofit organization that empowers and educates college students about mental health issues — the first stop of this year’s Send Silence Packing tour was FDU’s Florham Campus.


Above: More than 1,000 college students commit suicide each year. On Thursday, September 14, backpacks covered Florham Campus’ Library Lawn as a visual representation of the incredible cost of young adult suicide. (Photos by Joshua Siniscal)

For the whole day, more than 1,000 backpacks were strewn across the Library Lawn. Many of the backpacks once belonged to young people who had committed suicide and attached to the backpacks are photos and personal stories of the students who have died.


Hosted by the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office and the Active Minds student chapter and sponsored by Jas Verem, dean of students, the event helps put a face to the tragedies.


“Seeing a visual representation of how many students commit suicide yearly is shocking,” said Nicole Peluso, CAPS psychological counselor. “With this event during Suicide Prevention Week, I hope to increase the open discussion of mental illness and suicide to help students feel more comfortable in asking for help when they truly need it. It is okay to not be okay and I think we sent that message out successfully today.”

The Daily Record and News 12 both covered the event.