NJ university hosts traveling suicide prevention display

Posted: Updated:
FLORHAM PARK -

More than a thousand college students die by suicide each year, according to nonprofit Active Minds. That statistic was front and center Thursday in an exhibit at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park.

Active Minds’ “Send Silence Packing” display involved more than 1,000 backpacks, all of them donated by families of college students who died by suicide. Each of them representing a college student who takes their own life each year, some of the bags include a personal story that others are invited to read.

"All of these little stories are right in front of your face. And there could be people every single day that could be feeling the same thing and you have no idea,” FDU student Sabrina O’Connor said.

Organizers at Active Minds said the traveling exhibit, which marked its first stop of the year at FDU, aims to rid the stigma of depression and other mental health issues and to empower people to seek help for themselves or a loved one.

Organizers said compared to older adults, the 18-24 year old age group shows the lowest rate of help-seeking.

“That's the problem in our society and our culture is if something's wrong, don't talk about it. We’re supposed to be happy, be cheery and good all the time, and that's just not the way that it is,” Robert Schicker, of Active Minds, said.

Some FDU students who spoke with News 12 New Jersey said the exhibit made them feel encouraged to speak up. 

“I think it's really important to know that there's no shame in asking for help, and everything can get better,” O’Connor said.

To learn more about suicide prevention resources and the exhibit, visit ActiveMinds.org.

Go HERE for extended footage of the display.

sorry to interrupt
your first 5 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 5 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 5 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login, create an account or subscribe to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."