Speaking up to spread awareness

College campuses around the nation are speaking up to raise awareness about suicide. The Send Silence Packing event was held in front of the Davis Center by Active Minds this past Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to the University Communications website. Active Minds is an organization working with students to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses, according to the Active Minds website. “It is one of 310 student-run chapters reducing the stigma around mental health,” Active Minds adviser Annie Cressey said. This is the first year that UVM has hosted Send Silence Packing, Cressey said. “It’s really just a representation to get the conversation started to talk about what we can do to prevent suicide from happening to our friends and loved ones,” she said. Many students said that seeing the backpacks on campus opened their eyes. “The display was really powerful and gives you a visual of how many people it really affects,” sophomore Kelly Phillips said. Each year, 1,100 students are lost to suicide on college campuses, Cressey said. The main goal of the event is to work with students to spread awareness and to educate them about the issues surrounding mental health, she said. “Mental health is something that we all have and that we all struggle with and that’s okay,” Cressey said.   Suicide is the second leading cause of death for students, according to the Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHWB) website. In one year, 10 percent of college students said they have had thoughts of suicide and another 40 percent said they have felt so depressed that it is hard to function, the CHWB website stated.   Fifteen percent of graduate students and 18 percent of undergraduate students have said they have had suicidal thoughts, according to the CHWB website.   For people aged between 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind homicide and accidents, the American Association of Suicidology website stated. In the United States, males complete suicide 3.6 times more often than females, but females attempt suicide three times more often than males, according to the American Association of Suicidology website. While many college campuses offer low-cost or no-cost mental health services, the students who need help are not getting it, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website stated. At UVM, there are three board-certified psychologists that students can go to, according to the Center for Health and Wellbeing Counseling and Psychiatry Services (CAPS) website.    “The University makes a commitment to maintaining optimal mental health and preventing suicide clear to the community through a number of mechanisms,” Jon Porter, director of CHWB, said in an article to the Burlington Free Press.