GODFREY - Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) students and faculty members learned about suicide prevention at the “Send Silence Packing” traveling exhibit.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, April 29, 2024, the exhibit is at LCCC’s Godfrey campus. Sponsored by Active Minds, the exhibit shares the stories of people who were lost to suicide and others who survived suicidal ideation. Attendees could read their stories, participate in an art therapy exercise, pet therapy dogs and learn more about local resources.

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“We just want to make sure that we give our resources to the students,” said Brooke Frank, a counselor at LCCC. “We thought this was really important because mental health does matter and it’s good to make sure that we’re checking in on our students, especially during this time of finals and before the send-off into summer. We really just wanted to emphasize we’re here for everyone and we can all get through it together.”

The exhibit is made up of several backpacks donated by the loved ones of suicide victims. Frank pointed out an LCCC backpack they added to the exhibit in honor of students who have been lost over the years.

Christina Chapman is a professor who teaches a Science of Happiness class, where students learn more about the psychology behind happiness and mental well-being. Several students from her class had volunteered to staff the exhibit and give out resources to attendees.

“I think it’s really important for us to volunteer, just to bring awareness and help people,” said Breanna Hunter, a student in Chapman’s class.

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Chapman explained that her developmental English class was responsible for the exhibit’s stop in Godfrey. In 2019, her students wrote a paper about anxiety and depression on college campuses. In their research, they learned about the Active Minds “Send Silence Packing” traveling exhibit, and they lobbied the college to bring this installation to LCCC.

Chapman said it was powerful to watch her students push for mental health resources. They also lobbied for a yoga/meditation room on campus, and her current class is learning more about the possibility of installing a mental health garden. She said the goal of these resources is to increase our conversations around mental health.

“It’s so common, and the whole thing about this is to destigmatize mental illness,” she explained. “So many people suffer from it, and it’s the isolation that kills us. You’re down, you don’t see a way up. And eventually time will help, but you don’t see that. So it was really, really moving and I was so proud. I’m always proud of my students. They do amazing work. If you give them a chance to interact in the real world, they are amazing.”

According to Chapman, the best way to fight depression is through healthy social connections. Frank also noted that the college offers free counseling to students. In addition to Frank and Terri Austin, the college’s counselors, students can utilize BetterMynd Online Therapy. LCCC also partners with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Chestnut Health Systems so they can connect students with more community resources if necessary.

“We’re building a support system for them,” Frank added. “I want them to know they’re worthy. They’re enough. They are loved. And we have resources here on campus.”

For more information about LCCC’s counseling services, click here. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

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