Parents who arrived at the most recent Buc Backer Foundation meeting at Red Bank Regional High School were greeted by an unexpected sight: a queue of shoes, lining the walls and snaking around the halls to their meeting room.
The shoes, as the parents soon found out, were part of a presentation that was designed by the founder of the nonprofit Attitudes In Reverse (AIR), to create a haunting but poignant statement on the topic of suicide.
The display featured some 233 pairs of shoes, representing the number of young people in New Jersey who took their lives in just the two years between 2010 and 2012. The project was coordinated by the Buc Backer Foundation in conjunction with The SOURCE, RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program.
Suicide has grown to be the second cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24 in the United States. Every 15 minutes someone commits suicide, while every 40 seconds someone attempts it. According to the AIR website, “Unless you have walked IN THEIR SHOES you would never know the overwhelming feeling of sadness, anxiety and hopelessness that cause hundreds of young people to end their lives.”