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How Hundreds of Backpacks Littering a College Campus Are Actually Saving Lives

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, according to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. It takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year.

Alison Malmon, from Potomac, Maryland, was in college when her brother took his own life. To help prevent other people from experiencing the same thing, Malmon started a mental health advocacy organization called Active Minds.

Malmon uses her nonprofit to help spread awareness about the stigma surrounding mental health on college campuses. Today, there are 400 chapters in colleges all across the nation.

One of the ways student members of Active Minds bring awareness to their cause is through a demonstration involving backpacks. At the University of Alabama Birmingham they spread out 1,100 backpacks on the campus lawn — each one represented a student who has taken their own life, according to NBC.

The display draws people in and helps spark a discussion about mental illness, which Malmon believes ultimately helps save lives.

“There are a lot of students right now who are walking around who are thinking about dying,” Malmon tells NBC in the segment below. “My hope is more and more can have an answer from this and see a future for themselves.”

Watch the video below to see the powerful display and hear about its impact on students: 


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If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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