CF hosts poetry writers in honor of suicide awareness month


Roughly 250 people gathered in the Dassance Center on Monday evening to hear poetry writers Neil Hilborn and Jessyca Thibault recite poetry from their books for suicide awareness month.
Thibault read poems detailing her struggles with depression, body image, and suicidal thoughts from her books Glass Girl and Doll Eyes. Hilborn recited a mix of comedic and solemn poems about his personal life from his books Our Numbered Days and The Future.

The event was part two of the CF Suicide Prevention Project’s three-part series of speakers honoring September as Suicide Awareness Month. The first event was a motivational speaker coming to give advice on thriving in college and avoiding becoming suicidal. The third event will be this Wednesday afternoon where a comedian will put on a one-man show outlining his clinical depression.
“I think this event brings awareness to mental health issues,” said Rebecca Williams, President of the CF PREP (Psychological Rehabilitation Education Program) Club. “Suicide is the ‘elephant in the room’ that nobody ever talks about; it’s important to break the stigma around speaking out,” she continued.
“I thought the performances were really amazing,” said Abby Adera, a CF student in attendance of the event. Adera said she thoroughly enjoyed Hilborn’s poetry, and that events like these carry a lot of significance in getting the message out about suicide awareness.
Thibault is a CF alumna who still works in the area. Thibault said on stage that she uses her poetry-writing as a way of showing the world her true self. She believes people should never be judged by their appearance, because there are often so much hidden underneath outward facades.

Hilborn is a national slam poetry champion and author who recites poetry about his personal struggles in events and competitions worldwide. Hilborn’s work has been published in the Huffington Post and many other large publications. A 2012 video of him reciting his poem “OCD” has garnered over 14 million views on YouTube.
“Hilborn’s writing is deeply emotional, and anyone listening can relate to it in some way,” said Mia Lasaga, a CF student and member of the Forensics Club. Lasaga first brought up the idea of bringing Hilborn to CF to speak after becoming a voracious reader of his poetry.
“We need to start speaking out and asking the important question: Are you okay?” said Thomas Walsh, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at CF. Walsh invited Hilborn and Thibault to come speak at CF after receiving recommendations from Lasaga and the Forensics Club.
Walsh firmly believes that it is important to stop suicidal thoughts in the early stages by getting help; he thinks that events like these will help people muster the courage to speak up about their problems.
“Overall, the event went very well and we had a great turnout”, Lasaga said. “I have been to many different poetry events before and they usually don’t draw audiences this big.”
Hilborn emphatically and emotionally recited one of his final poems of the evening, “Sunrise is coming, all you need to do is wake up.” Indeed, a very heartfelt way to end the night.


Story and photos by Noah Corcoran