“Send Silence Packing”

The time between Thanksgiving and the December holidays can be filled with mixed emotions. Law students, like everyone else, remember those we have lost. We wish they could be with us, but we are also profoundly grateful for the time we had with them.

As Christmas music starts to play on the radio and strings of icicle lights pop up around the city, I am reminded of a reflection on loss I wrote back in September. As our BU law community journeys through this post-Thanksgiving, pre-holidays time together, I wanted to share my reflection with you all:

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A rainbow of backpacks sparkled in the odd, summer-like heat. The BU Beach was unusually quiet, as students took a moment out of their busy days to silently consider the bright backpacks, spread across the lawn. Each backpack lay as a memorial to a college student who had taken their own life.

Two weeks ago was World Suicide Prevention Day. Today, BU was home to the traveling exhibition “Send Silence Packing.” The exhibition is multi-purpose – it raises awareness of mental health issues; promotes dialogue; encourages students to reach out for help; and creates space to remember those we have lost.

Today I remembered a friend I lost. Several years ago, one of my best friends committed suicide. She was just about to start her last year of undergrad. She was full of life, and one of the funniest people I have ever known. At the law school’s open mic during 1L year, I had the opportunity to perform a spoken word about her. After the open mic, several students shared their own experiences with me – their personal struggle with depression, or the loss of loves ones to suicide.

The high rate of depression and anxiety among lawyers and law students is real. But staying silent about it is counter-productive. I am thankful that “Send Silence Packing” came to our campus today. And I have been encouraged to see the way our law school community has come together to raise awareness of mental health issues, from encouraging students to learn how to care for themselves, to engaging in dialogue. Student Affairs hosted a Critical Conversations on mental health last year, and I was deeply inspired by the honesty and bravery of my fellow students.

I’ve learned first-hand how important community is. I’m so thankful for the ways that my fellow students have come together to support each other, not just in our studies, but in encouraging each other to reach out for help – a lesson I know I will carry into my legal career.

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