Nationally recognized mental health and suicide prevention program coming to IU Southeast

7th December 2017

NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Indiana University Southeast Counseling Services has received a $7,500 grant from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County to bring a nationally recognized mental health and suicide prevention event to the IU Southeast campus in the fall of 2018.

“Send Silence Packing” is a public exhibit with the goal of raising awareness of the incidence and impact of suicide, connecting students to needed resources, and bolstering suicide prevention efforts on college campuses.

The exhibit features 1,000 backpacks that represent the more than 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.  Attached to each backpack is a personal story of a college student who has lost his or her life to suicide.

A “Send Silence Packing” exhibit featuring 1,000 backpacks that represent the more than 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year

“‘Send Silence Packing’ will help us increase understanding of mental health issues and and raise awareness for suicide prevention on our campus and in our community,” said Beth Rueschhoff, associate professor of biology at IU Southeast and co-organizer of campus mental health events.  “We hope to decrease stigma and create an open dialogue on mental health and wellness.”

The exhibit is sponsored by Active Minds, a national nonprofit dedicated to young adult mental health advocacy and awareness.  Active Minds is student-driven, with 400 student-led chapters working with parents, families and school administrators to change the conversation on mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses.

“By displaying backpacks with personal stories, Send Silence Packing puts a ‘face’ to lives lost to suicide and carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about improving statistics, but also about saving the lives of daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and friends across the nation,” the organization notes on its website.

Active Minds will have trained staff on hand all day at the IU Southeast event to answer questions and provide resources for students, and a follow-up discussion will be held to allow participants to process and reflect on the experience.

Displayed for the first time in 2008 on the National Mall, “Send Silence Packing” has since traveled to more than 140 cities.  It will come to IU Southeast as part of the campus’s interdisciplinary Mental Health and Wellness Seminar Series, a series of lectures, discussions, films and events designed to promote dialogue about mental health and provide support and information to those suffering from and affected by mental illness, especially those who may not be comfortable seeking help or may not know where to turn.  Past seminars have resulted in 96% of attendees stating that they were more likely to openly discuss the mental health topic covered with family, friends and/or peers following the event.

Over the past three years, a wide range of topics has been covered in the series, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), heroin and opiate addiction, costs of mental illness for the business community, challenges of mental health management in disenfranchised populations (such as those who are incarcerated), managing stress and anxiety, the biology of mental illness and maintaining mental health while caregiving.  The series also presents activities for Suicide Prevention Week, including depression screenings, a resource fair and the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

The Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County is a private foundation created to benefit the Floyd County community.  The Foundation’s philanthropic focus falls into the categories of grant making to charitable non-profit organizations, educational scholarships and program-related investments that encourage economic development.  Since its founding, the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County has given more than $42 million to the Floyd County Community.

Indiana University Southeast is one of seven campuses of Indiana University. Offering more than 100 degree programs and concentrations, the scenic 180-acre campus is located less than 15 minutes from downtown Louisville, Kentucky. As a public comprehensive university, IU Southeast prepares graduates for productive citizenship in a diverse society, and it contributes to the intellectual, cultural, civic and economic development of the region. It currently has an enrollment of more than 6,000 students and employs more than 400 faculty members. About 400 students now live on campus in five fully furnished, lodge-style residence halls. For more information, visit IU Southeast is a tobacco-free campus.


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