Backpacks, 1,100 of them, were arranged neatly across a gym floor at Montclair State University in New Jersey. The backpacks, some with photos and remembrances, represented the 1,100 college students who committed suicide in 2009.
The exhibit, called "Send Silence Packing," was part of a national Active Minds conference on college student mental health and suicide prevention. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for college students, behind accidents and homicide. For all of us parents of teens, note that 14 percent of high school students have seriously considered taking their own lies, according to Center for Disease Control data.
What can we do? Start talking about it -- with our kids, at schools, everywhere. And as parents, before we send our kids off to college, we ought to find out what kind of mental health support systems are available. Maybe we need to add that to the list of things to consider about prospective colleges.