“How does it feel after losing a loved one to suicide? How to bear the grief, guilt and unanswered questions as we rebuild our lives?” Suzan Auerbach questions on her personal blog, Walking the Mourner’s Path After a Child’s Suicide.
Suzan Auerbach told the touching life story of her son, Noah Langholz, and his suicide in college at age of 21. According to Auerbach’s speech Oct. 21, her son was a surfer and an incredibly social boy growing up with a plethora of friends. While attending college, his close friend committed suicide, which Langholz never fully recovered from. About three months prior to his suicide, however, Langholz’ started to change. He came home from college ‘coming home to die’ and left a note when he took his life. His death was primarily due to overall ignorance of his peers and family around him, and shame in not talking about his unhealthy mental condition. The honest recollection of his emotions and feelings could have changed his life trajectory, possibly leading him to stay. To stay with his family and friends and have hope to live.
At the event, members of the audience to the organization Active Minds, and the event, Send Silence Packing, which features an exhibit of over a thousand backpacks on it. Every backpack includes a letter on it representing the detailed life story of a college student who committed suicide.
The goal of the event is to raise mental health awareness and break the silence and shame circling the topic of college suicide. Active Minds hopes to connect individuals to mental health resources and encourage people to eradicate the silence, shame and ignorance around the topic of mental health. Active Minds has hosted over 183 exhibit stops at various colleges.
“1100 students die of college suicide every year. Why aren’t we talking about it?” The event organization states, giving facts such as “44 percent of college students have felt so depressed it was hard to function”, or “50 of college students report suicidal ideation at some time in their life”, according to Active Minds Organization
“Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has mental health” says Alison Mamon, an attendee.
“Send Silence Packing was 100 percent the most impactful event our campus has ever done. It is a day that I will never forget.” – Rachel Digangi, College leader at Lesley University.
Reflecting on the story, Active Minds reflects that it important it is to break the silence around mental health, how ignorance and shame are fueling the highest suicide growth rate in decades and more. Not only is everyone fighting a battle; many are suffering in silence. Individuals need need to know that they need not suffer alone. Life is worth living.