Share Your Story

“But in the end, stories are about 1 person saying to another: ‘This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it feel this way to you?’

Kazuo Ishiguro

We greatly appreciate the personal stories sent to Active Minds

Rooted in a dynamic story-sharing format displayed through mixed mediums, Send Silence Packing (SSP) is an immersive experience that illustrates the stories and centers the voices of youth as they guide us through their mental health journeys to end the silence surrounding suicide. Now entering its 15th year on the road, SSP has connected more than one million visitors in over 350 communities with resources and tools for skills and support. The exhibit serves as a mobilizing force to change the way we think, talk, and feel about mental health, and (perhaps most importantly), how we show up for the people around us.

With this mission in mind, we welcome stories about hope and recovery to accompany a backpack on the Send Silence Packing® exhibit. While many of the stories we tell come from friends and family members who have survived the loss of a loved one or from those who have survived suicide attempts and struggles with their own mental health, The SSP Team also has an interest in highlighting stories that elevate the importance of validating each other’s experiences, practicing community care, and advocating for meaningful change. 

Complex feelings (i.e. anger, resentment, irritability) commonly ensue after the loss of a loved one. Naming and identifying what we are feeling is where we start. While all feelings are natural and valid, Send Silence Packing aims to highlight messages of hope and help-seeking. Our goal is to ensure that each visitor leaves the exhibit with the validation, inspiration, and education to cultivate deeper connections in their communities.  We work very closely with each story-teller to ensure that the story-teller is happy with the final outcome and that it supports our chief goal of lasting culture change around mental health.

The Stories We Tell May Include or Focus On:

  • Action or advocacy efforts after the loss of a loved one
  • Hope and recovery through self or community care
  • The life of the loved one who was lost, rather than their death
  • How your experiences transformed who you are, how you cope with challenges, and how you treat and address mental health on an individual or interpersonal level.
  • Survivors of suicide attempts or those who have struggled with ideation and periods of crises
  • Referring readers to help-seeking resources (therapy, self or community care, psychiatric services, skills-building, support groups, and more)
  • Reminding readers that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health

Stories Should Not Include:

  • Descriptions of the means by which the person died by suicide, detailed information about the location, or graphic details about the state in which the person was found
  • Suggestions in any way that suicide is the way to deal with difficulties
  • Graphic descriptions of comorbid mental health conditions including self-injury and eating disorders
  • Unkind treatment toward others (making fun of or bullying someone)
  • Use of profane language
  • Use of inflammatory language against people on the basis of race, color, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, and/or disability
  • Use of demeaning language against individuals with mental health conditions and disabilities
  • Idealization of the act or after-effects of suicide by stating, for example, that your loved one (who died by suicide) is now at peace, in a better place, or no longer in pain
  • Breaches of confidentiality such as the name of the specific medication or behavioral health service/provider a person uses or may have used in the past
  • Shame or blame toward an identifiable peer, administrator, school or workplace for a death by suicide
  • Glorification of negative coping behaviors, such as self-injury or substance abuse
  • Description of one’s suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning”
  • Expressions of resentment toward the loved one lost to suicide or a suicide survivor
  • Assumptions about another person’s thoughts and feelings

Refer to These Writing Guidelines:

  • Use person-first language (e.g., “person with anorexia” vs. “anorexic”).
  • When discussing suicide, use the phrase “died by suicide” or “took their own life” rather than “committed suicide.” The word “committed” connotes a crime or being committed to a hospital.
  • Refrain from describing a suicide attempt as “failed” or “successful/unsuccessful.”
  • “Suicide survivor” or “suicide loss survivor” refers to the family member or friend of the person who died by suicide.
  • “Suicide attempt survivor” refers to a person who has attempted suicide.
  • Cite any statistics or facts from outside sources that you use in your story.


  • By submitting your story or photo, you agree that Active Minds may use them in materials that support mental health awareness or suicide prevention as described on the Media Release.
  • Some stories can be sensitive in nature. First and foremost, consider your own health and well-being when making the decision to share your experiences.
  • If your story is selected for use, Active Minds will often (with your permission) include your first name, last initial, city, and state along with your story.
  • If Active Minds selects your story, there may be some edits made for the sake of ensuring program safety. If this is the case, we will contact you for your consent on revisions.
  • Talking about suicide and mental health is not easy. Active Minds is truly grateful that you are sharing your story with us!

For more information about how to tell your story, please review the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s Storytelling for Suicide Prevention Checklist.

Ready to Share?

Please complete the Story Submission form through the button below.

If you are also interested in sending a backpack to accompany your story, please check the appropriate box on the form. All backpack donations can be sent to Active Minds c/o Send Silence Packing, 2001 S Street NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20009.

Submit Your Story