Speaker inspires students to choose life over suicide

By Alex Baldino
Staff Writer

Comedian, father and soon-to-be professor at the College Christopher Smith is a man who wears many hats. 

While he currently serves as the departmental secretary in the College’s criminology department, on Nov. 21, he found himself in Mayo Concert Hall telling a theater full of students and faculty about his time growing up, his teaching experience and his suicide attempt in 2008.

Smith opened with letting everyone know that he was making jokes about his life. 

“(Humor) was the only way I ever got through it,” he said.

He wanted people to see a “different perspective.” In fact, he told the audience that before the show he had been crying for an hour to demonstrate that despite what his tattoos and appearance may suggest, he still had emotions.

After he told more jokes, Smith got to the main topic and began to recount his suicide attempt. After being inundated with various issues in his life, he only survived thanks to the efforts of his mother. Had she not pulled him out of his car, where a tube was running from the exhaust to the driver side window, he would not have been able to give his talk. 

In his family, Smith had grown up poor — his mother had rheumatoid arthritis and his father was addicted to methamphetamine. Despite how bleak his life seemed, he discussed his childhood with the good humor and wit befitting of a comedian. 

He told stories of how when his father was high, he would tell him to tell people who weren’t there to be quiet. He also discussed how he found thousands of dollars in the floorboard of a gas station, which he affectionately called “floorboard money.” 

Smith also mentioned that when child services came to his house, which was shortly after his father had just begun to get clean, they told his parents that they were a model family and wanted them to become a foster home.

Smith also recounted his history as a teacher working in the suburbs at Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro, Penn. 

“Every parent thought their kid was special — they weren’t,” he said. “We didn’t have books (at the high school). That’s like being a math teacher and someone telling you that you don’t have numbers.”

Smith ended his set with a few words of wisdom. First, he plugged the class he’s teaching next semester, CRI-170.

He said that he was glad that he did not go through with his suicide because it allowed him to do what he enjoys — making people laugh, teaching and raising his two daughters.

“Speak up,” he said. “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

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