Exhibit aims to promote awareness, prevent suicide

Lindsay Ruhl, Contributing Writer

Active Minds, a nonprofit mental health organization, hosted the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit on the Berger Family Lawn Wednesday in an effort to prevent suicide and promote mental health awareness. (Lindsay Ruhl)

Tulane University’s Wave of Support displayed the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit to promote action and awareness around suicide prevention Wednesday, covering the Berger Family Lawn in an interactive display of backpacks that told stories of people who have lost a loved one to suicide or been directly impacted by a suicide death.

Active Minds, the nation’s leading group advocacy for youth mental health, sponsored the exhibit. 

“The idea here is to spread the message that help is available, and it’s okay to not be okay,” Sam Bruce, program manager for Wave of Support, said. “We hope to share our resources here at Tulane and to honor the lives lost by suicide and know that we’re talking about it and we care.” 

The backpacks on the lawn told stories of people who have lost loved ones to suicide. 

“I think [suicide] is something that often goes unnoticed,” junior Rebecca Steynberg said. “It’s very real. I think this is a very powerful exhibit, especially since a backpack is such an obvious way to think of it like real people, like individual experiences. I think that this is a great way to raise awareness.”

Wave of Support offers students mental and emotional support in order to build a healthier campus.

“I think the big thing is to give students the tools to promote suicide awareness to know how to get help and how to support others, and really just normalize seeking help,” Benny Dorris, manager of online student services, said. 

The exhibit provided students with mental health and support resources available on campus. 

“There’s a number of other supports that I think students don’t often consider; your success coach is here for you, your advisors are here for you, your classmates,” Bruce said. “There’s a network, and Wave of Support is trying to bring those things together.”

Through Wave of Support, students can take a training course called Question Persuade Refer. QPR trains people on how to recognize warning signs of a suicide crisis.

“It’s a training about speaking up and being there for somebody that might be showing and displaying signs,” Director of Student Success Kimberly Charlesworth said.

Anyone with a Tulane email address can take the training in one hour or less. 

Some students at the event said recognizing mental health is critical, especially on college campuses.

“Everyone’s journey with depression, or anything like that, can look very different, but it doesn’t make it any less important or valid,” Steynberg said. “You should look out for your friends and family and check in on them. Colleges sometimes can be isolating, and I think that people should take extra care to look after their friends.”

For Tulane affiliates in need of  immediate medical attention, the Tulane University Police Department can be reached at (504) 865-5911. For non-affiliates, dial 911.

For Tulane students in need of mental health support, contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 504-314-2277. The Counseling Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Friday. The Counseling Center provides mental health counseling and other related services. 

The New Orleans Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Line can be reached 24/7 by texting “NAMI” to 741741.

Students in need of additional support can contact the Residential Advisor on call in their residence hall. Students may also call the on-call Case Manager at 504-920-9900.

For LGBTQ+ students, the Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to those under 25 and can be reached at 866-488-7386.

The Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff seeking counseling or support. Information about Employee Assistance Programs can be found at https://hr.tulane.edu/benefits/employee-assistance-program.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.

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