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MSU groups to 'Send Silence Packing' Tuesday

April 9, 2012

Two Mississippi State University groups are working toward ending the escalating numbers of suicide among college students. According to an MSU release, more than 1,000 college students nationwide will commit suicide this year.

The university effort is being led by the Division of Student Affairs' Department of Relationship Violence and Outreach and campus chapter of Active Minds, an advocacy group. All events are open to the public.

Beginning at 10 a.m., Active Minds members are holding a "Send Silence Packing" backpack display on the Drill Field until 2 p.m. to help educate the public about the tragic facts surrounding student suicides.

From 2-4:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium the MSU Social Work Program aims to raise awareness about the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in schools.

According to a release, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth face many challenges. More than 90 percent of these young people report being verbally or physically harassed in their schools.

The featured speaker for the event is Brad A. Palmertree, the co-chair of the Middle Tennessee State University chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN is the only organization in Tennessee committed solely to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. Additionally, a film will be shown featuring LGBTQ youth from Mississippi which will give audiences insight to the hardships that these youth face growing up in in the South.

"It is an extreme emotional battle to be gay in the bible belt where LGBTQ youth often face immense prejudice and discrimination," said Brandy Cupstid, an event organizer and MSU social work senior. "Every young person should be accepted in schools, churches and their community; all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. As future social workers we value self determination for all individuals and combat the negative attitudes toward any person based on who they were born to be or who they choose to be."

Later, Jordan Burnham will share his story in McCool Hall's Taylor Auditorium at 6 p.m.

Burnham, a 20-year-old college student from Philadelphia, Pa. attempted suicide by jumping nine stories from a bedroom window while only a senior in high school.

The experience forced Burnham, who suffered severe injuries, to acknowledge his battle with depression and led him to use his experience to help others in similar situations. He has shared his story with national audiences via CNN, Good Morning America, People magazine, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today, among other media.

"After falling over 100 feet, by miracle I survived and now I am trying to make a positive from such a horrible nightmare," Burnham said in his blog, "Life After the Fall."

"It is my hope that our students, faculty and staff will join the members of the MSU chapter of Active Minds and come out to support and encourage, and to bring attention to the importance of the mental wellness of college students," said Relationship Violence and Outreach Director Beatrice Tatem.

For more information on Burnham and Active Minds, visit

For more on the Tuesday events, contact Tatem's office at 662-325-2090.

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