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Kappa Delta honors sister during suicide awareness month

<p>Kappa Delta planted a tree and held a walk in honor of Daniela DiSanto, their sister who passed away over the summer.</p>

Kappa Delta planted a tree and held a walk in honor of Daniela DiSanto, their sister who passed away over the summer.

Miami University’s chapter of Kappa Delta (KD) held several events in recognition of National Suicide Awareness Month and in remembrance of sophomore member Daniela DiSanto, who died this August.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, KD met at the sundial in Central Quad, leading a walk in honor of Daniela. After walking to the tree Miami planted in Daniela’s honor and placing flowers, everyone walked over to Kumar Chapel for a memorial service.

“We had a very simplistic memorial service; I think it was very beautiful,” Doheny said. “There were pictures of Daniela around flowers, and after Father Jacob did the memorial service, we gave everyone a chance to talk. Mrs. DiSanto actually came into town for the memorial service so she talked; some friends talked.”

Doheny appreciated that the memorial allowed everyone to mourn together.

“It was just touching having everyone mourn Daniela in the same place. It changed the tone almost because none of us really got to do that; we were all just living with it,” Doheny said. “But the memorial service really allowed us to mourn her death but also celebrate everything she did in her life.”

KD held a fundraiser selling sweatshirts to promote suicide awareness, and all proceeds went to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Meghan Doheny, president of KD, said each of the four sweatshirt designs represented an aspect of Daniela’s life.

“I think the main goal was to acknowledge what happened and also promote one's own mental health at the end of the day,” Doheny said. “One of the sweatshirts was [inspired by] her father, and it had the last line of his eulogy down the sleeve which said, ‘Have the Courage, Turn the Corner,’ and on the back of it we surveyed her friends and families and Kappa Deltas in the Miami community, and we put 50 responses to the question of different ways Daniela created love.”

Shortly before her death, Daniela had gotten the word “create” tattooed on her rib cage, and Doheny said her sisters wanted to highlight Daniela’s motto. 

“It was kind of her life motto: create the life you want almost in a sense you can create some aspects of your life,” Dohney said. “It reminded me, if I'm having a bad day, I can create happiness like I can change my mood, just like a simple mindset.”

Nicole Mironchik, KD’s mental health chair, said she was touched by everyone that came to honor Daniela. 

“It was really great to see the people from all over that came – it wasn't just Kappa Deltas only, it was just people from all across the board that was really great,” Mironchik said.

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Mironchik described Daniela’s passing as a wake up call for many people. Mironchik has been putting together pages of resources for KD, such as Campus Care and the Student Counseling Service, and said there should be more conversations about mental health at Miami.

“I think [mental health] could be taken a little bit more seriously [at Miami], and maybe students could be a little bit more informed,” Mironchik said. “Because these are all things that I learned about doing research when I was going to educate people in the sorority about the resources, it wasn't anything I knew before.”

Collin Leider, president of Never Walk Alone, said his organization’s main goals are educating Miami students about the importance of  mental health in college and creating a community within the organization.

Leider said around 20% of college students have either seriously considered attempting or attempted suicide.

“Depression is very, very common within college students. Especially on the tail end of the pandemic, rates have skyrocketed because of isolation,” Leider said. “I'd really love people to know that there's a lot of people and resources and organizations out there that are more than willing and want to help you. And you're not alone.”

Michael Blackledge, President of MENtal Health, said his organization's goal is to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and help students find the resources available to them.

“We're formed with a goal of raising awareness on mental health, but at the same time we want to educate other Miami students about what resources are available to them, how to contact the Counseling Center, and telling them it's okay to see counseling,” Blackledge said. “And also how to be a supportive friend to someone who may be thinking about, like, ‘Oh I want to go to counseling, but I'm kind of embarrassed to talk about it.’”

Blackledge says he thinks it’s important to remove the stigmas about mental health.

“It's okay to be open with your friends and your peers,” Blackledge said. “And if you are open about that, then someone else who previously wasn't open about it may follow your example, and kind of tell themselves, ‘It's okay to talk about my emotions.’ ”

Doheny believes it’s time to have more open conversations about mental health. 

“I think in general, mental health has been brushed under the rug one too many times,” Doherty said. “I think everyone wants to live that perfect college life, and they don't really want to admit that they're entirely battling and dealing with things.”