On April 14, the Student Government Association hosted Send Silence Packing, a traveling exhibit that raises awareness of suicide and mental health issues on college campuses.
The exhibit featured 1,100 backpacks spread across the lawn in front of the Student Center, representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year. Some of the backpacks also featured photographs and personal stories of lives lost.
Send Silence Packing is sponsored by Active Minds, Inc., a national nonprofit organization that works to engage student voices on college campuses to change the conversation about mental health. Active Minds staff and Centre counselors were present at the exhibit to provide resources and answer questions.
Centre was one of 11 schools selected via application to host the exhibit this year. Director of Counseling at Centre Ann Goodwin says the Active Minds staff mentioned that Centre was the only college that hosted the exhibit through its Student Government Association.
“I think this is an indication of Centre students’ prioritization of mental wellness,” she explains, “and their willingness to have important, albeit difficult, discussions.”
Bryce Rowland ’17, speaker of the house of the Student Government Association, was primarily drawn to the powerful nature of the exhibit and its ability to address issues surrounding mental health. “We hope to keep the conversation surrounding mental health going in the long term,” he says.
Members of the Centre community will have the opportunity to continue the discussion of mental health on campus this week as Centre Counseling Services hosts “QPR Gatekeeper Training,” an evidence-based program in suicide prevention.
QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer,” and will train individuals how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, as well as how to question, persuade and refer someone to get help. Participants completing the training will be better equipped to recognize signs that someone is at risk for suicide and will have increased knowledge of intervention skills and referral resources.
The training will take place Thursday, April 21 in the Campus Center’s McLeod Meeting Room. Students, faculty and staff may RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am proud that Centre students do not endorse the stigma about accessing mental health services,” says Goodwin.
She adds that 33 percent of each of the past two graduating classes utilized Centre Counseling Services at some point in their four years at the College.
“This willingness to seek help and use available resources are part of the Centre culture of aiming for excellence, celebrating diversity and sharing in community,” she says.
by Mary Trollinger
April 22, 2016