SACRAMENTO -- More than 1,000 backpacks are displayed on a north lawn of Capitol Park this afternoon to represent the 1,100 college students who commit suicide each year. 

Lost in thought, Chris was among those reading the stories and quietly wandering among the backpacks, which came in many colors, shapes and sizes -- just like the students they represent.

"It's very touching, very heart wrenching in many cases. There are some incredible stories here," he said.

Stories of a boy who was just months away from being named valedictorian and a girl described by friends as "always happy and smiling."

Brandon Doman of Active Minds says the award-winning display is part of the organization's effort to get people talking about mental health issues in an effort to reduce suicide rates.

"You know, if you break your arm and go to the doctor, nobody looks at you funny. But if you say you're struggling with depression, or something, there's still a little bit of stigma. And we want people to know that it's completely normal to talk about mental health," Doman said.

Donated in memory of loved ones who've taken their own lives, the exhibit is part of a 12-city California tour that concludes next Friday in San Francisco.