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Suicide prevention display at Stanislaus State inspires hope, conversation

This traveling exhibit, called Send Silence Packing, visits college campuses across the country and it's meant to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention.

TURLOCK, Calif. — More than 1,000 backpacks were set up around the quad lawn at Stanislaus State on Wednesday. They are there to symbolize every college student that has died by suicide this school year.

"Inspiring, heartbreaking, hard to look at, but it's a wakeup call," Claudia Torres, a senior at Stanislaus State said.

Students like Torres were greeted to what looked like a graveyard of backpacks as they passed through their quad on Wednesday.

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"I know people knew these people, so they could have talked to them or got help for them, I don't know. It's just very heartbreaking. So, it serves as a wakeup call to check up on everybody," she said.

"What we really want to do is inspire hope and inspire conversation," Erin Simon, a tour coordinator for Send Silence Packing said.

This traveling exhibit, called Send Silence Packing, visits college campuses across the country and it's meant to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention.

"I think that something that a lot of people go through when they're struggling is feeling really really alone. And by opening up that conversation that there is all of the proof that you need to know that you're not the only person that's felt that way and you have people who are there for you, who want to understand you, who can connect you to feeling better," Simon said.

The school pushed to bring the exhibit to campus in order to inspire hope and share their resources with the students.

"We really see that our students struggle and so we just wanted them to know that they're not alone in their struggles and that this impacts a lot of people," Megan Rowe, a Health Education Coordinator for Stanislaus State said.

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Some of the backpacks were donated by families of students that have committed suicide and many of them have stories and photos attached to them.

"A lot of students feel inspired to open up in ways that they hadn't before. It opens a conversation that they might not have even known that they needed to have," Simon said.

It is an issue so big they hope the display will show it can't be ignored anymore.

"I'm glad that they're doing this. This is awesome," Torres said.

The display will travel to the Modesto Junior College on Thursday next from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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WATCH ALSO: Foresthill Bridge covered with thousands of "Notes of Hope" to prevent suicide

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