How to kill yourself without hurting anyone.

by Neil Hilborn

Photo by Emily Van Siclen

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Short

Step 1

Show your students the embedded video in the presentation.

Step 2

When they’re done watching, have them discuss their general feelings toward those poems.

Step 3

As a group, have them write down some of the topics or subjects that Hilborn shared in his poem. Then ask your students to come up with more topics that they wished he had touched upon.

Step 4

Have your students work in groups to continue Hilborn’s poem or come up with a “series of short poems” of their own, like Hilborn.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with the rest of the group.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: tone, diction, structure, and structure (syntax).

This lesson is particularly difficult, so we would suggest assigning it when the students have a relatively strong grasp of the different poetic elements and techniques that contribute to a poem’s message.

Step 2

Simply show them the video of Neil Hilborn’s performance of the “poem” (which is actually part of a longer poem).

Step 3

Tell them to open the following document and start working. Try not to give them hints or feedback when they’re working; allow them to see how much they can extrapolate on their own.

Step 4

When the students are done – or close to being done – have them share their responses.

Step 5

Share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Death / Grief
  • Mental Health

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Structure
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone