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7 Poetry Slam Videos on Mental Illness

Gina Nicoll

Staff Writer

Gina Nicoll is a writer and research student in Toronto, Canada.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and as someone who struggles with mental illness and suicidal thinking, one of the things that has helped me stay alive is knowing that I’m not alone and someone else out there gets it. Here are seven poetry slam videos that have gotten me through tough times and that may help you, too.

“I Won’t Write Your Obituary” by Nora Cooper

I needed to hear the mix of anger and love in Cooper’s voice as she says, yes, if you’re ever going to hurt yourself, please call someone. I needed to hear that it’s not okay. You need to stick around.

“Suicide Note” by Akeemjamal Rollins

It has a dark title and beginning, but hang on for the payoff. You may be tired and you may be suffering, but you can keep fighting. There are people out there who will make you want to live again.

“Today Means Amen” by Sierra DeMulder

Written as a response to messages she received for a previous work about self-harm, this poem is a shining light that shows recovery is possible. You can make it too.

“Anxiety Group” by Catalina Ferro

This is why, if you’re living with anxiety, you are a gladiator.

“Joey” by Neil Hilborn

You may be familiar with Hilborn because his heartbreaking poem “OCD” went viral, but don’t forget “Joey,” about a childhood friendship and the effect class has on mental health. I can’t watch this without getting angry about life-saving treatment costing so much, especially when mental illness already tries to convince you that you aren’t worth it. But you are worth it. Everyone is.

“Anxiety: A Ghost Story” by Brenna Twohy

For those times when someone loving you and your anxiety feels like living in a haunted house, remember there are people who won’t run away but who will instead tell the ghosts to make room.

Also check out her poem “In Which I Do Not Fear Harvey Dent,” about how having a mental illness is like having a superpower.

“The Nutritionist” (aka “The Madness Vase”) by Andrea Gibson

Sometimes it helps to hear that it gets better, but sometimes you need to hear that it sucks and other people feel it too. “You stay here with me, okay? You stay here with me.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know that there is hope and you are not alone. Suicide is not the answer; getting help is the answer. If you are in the US, please call 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 telephone support or go to IMAlive for 24/7 online support. If you are outside the US, please click here for a list of international suicide hotlines. You are worth it.