By: Deasha Bent
On Wednesday, March 13 at 8 p.m., in the Edgerton Theatre at Sacred Heart University, theatre major, social work minor, and junior, Mary Campione, decided to take a career path into motivational speaking. She brought awareness to mental illness to her fellow classmates through her speech titled “I’m Not Ashamed,” focusing on suicide prevention and the importance of kindness and compassion.
“I used to run retreats through my youth group in high school, and every leader had to do a talk. I loved doing those talks and then I found out that there is profession where you can make money talking and just sharing part of your life and motivating people,” said Campione.
Campione’s speech was partially about suicide prevention and mental illnesses and the other was of her attempting suicide and sharing her story. She felt inspired by the Scott Family, related to Rachel Scott, who was one of the first students who was murdered during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
“Her family found a quote written in one of her journals, which they turned into Rachel’s Challenge, and they go all over the country talking to high schools about kindness and compassion, and it was that quote that impacted half of my speech,” said Campione.
In Campione’s speech, she included her story of a suicide attempt, her recovery process and how she still struggles with depression and anxiety today. She also included in the other half how random acts of kindness is what’s going to change the world.
“I think it’s something that isn’t talked about a lot. Especially for college aged students, to hear one of their peers say “Hey, I go through this…” when it’s not something you would think that I would go through. It shines the light on how bad the stigmas are around mental illnesses,” said Campione.
According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2017, there were over 47,000 deaths are caused by suicide and it is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. While there is no single cause of suicide and self-harm, the foundation said it is imperative that people learn the warning signs of a person who is depressed and in danger of harming themselves.
These signs may include but are not limited to talks of killing themselves or feeling hopeless, behavior changes like withdrawing from activities and sleeping too much or too less, aggression, or irritability.
Junior, sports communication, and media arts major, Louis Frey sat through Campione’s speech and helped her prepare for in front of her friends.
“Her strongest point in her speech is the smallest acts of kindness can change a person’s day. She hit right over the head with her point on you never know what a person is going through. The smallest things can go a long way,” said Frey.
Campione’s experiences gave her the strength to stand in front of those classmates and share the true importance of suicide and depression and highlighted how crucial it is to be kind to another person.
“I took my hard experiences that could have altered my life in a completely negative way, and I used it to turn my life around and make myself a stronger person,” said Campione.