Burdened day after day with depression, stress, and paranoia Kevin Hines was driven to try and commit suicide. But luckily he survived. Today, Hines is on a mission to help others. He made a documentary and formulated a plan to create incentives that would keep people away from the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Now jump” the voice whispered in my head, Kevin Hines said. “And I was … I was forced to die.”
Hines climbed over the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge in May 2000 and started free-falling at 75 mph. The instant his fingers let go, he felt a rush of regret.
“‘I think it’s too late,’ I said to myself, ‘What have I done?’ I do not want to die,” Hines said. “I realize I have made the biggest mistake of my life.”
In just four seconds, Hines hit the water, and the pressure of the cold water destroyed his spine and ankles. But a miracle saved his life.
In his autobiography on YouTube, Hines talked about his 17th birthday when it all came crashing down. He went through a series of phases from manic behavior to hallucinating, constantly thinking that people wanted to kill him. His brain tricked him into thinking that no one was interested in him, nobody cares. And then, unable to endure those thoughts, Hines went to the favorite destination of suicidal men—the Golden Gate Bridge.
“My dad came to the hospital, I looked up at my father and said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry,’ and my dad replied, ‘No, Kevin, I’m sorry.’ And if you think about it both of our immediate reactions were guilt. Although I did not die, I caused a lot of suffering to my family… Later I asked my father if he still feared my death by suicide he replied, ‘Each time the phone goes off his first inclination, Is Kevin alive.’”
Over the next 11 years Hines has seven psych ward stays and mental illness has clung to him. But he has chosen to face it and keep it under control.
Now, he works daily and is active in managing the symptoms of his depression. He has a plan. Hines has visited a mental hospital several times since then. In addition, he takes medication and meets regularly with a therapist. He exercises at least 23 minutes each morning. He eats a healthy diet for the brain, meditates, and uses music therapy.
But the most important thing that helped him to re-engage with life is the community. He has built a network of relatives to help him fight mad thoughts. He calls them his “guard troops” and whenever it’s hard to get over bad thoughts, Hines goes to those relatives, shares and seeks their support.
Retell the story
About seven months after that fateful day, shy and anxious, Hines first shared his story with 120 seventh- and eighth-graders. But surprisingly, the story gained sympathy. Two weeks later, those students sent him a letter. Some told Hines that his talk made all the difference and they got the help they needed.
“A story has helped kids decide to be honest with their pain,” Hines said. “Seeing the positive effect of talking to the children, I told my father, ‘Dad, we have to do this, wherever we can.’ This is the beginning of changing things.”
Hines has detailed his story in a new documentary he produced “Suicide: The Ripple Effect.” It played across the United States at more than 200 locations on March 14, 2018. He is also the author of a memoir, “Cracked But Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt.” Hines has been very successful—he has over 15,000 followers on Twitter. And today he persistently speaks for those who are depressed, who need more support, sharing, and empathy from the community to get rid of the pain day by day.
Since the Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937, it is estimated that more than 1,700 people have jumped from the bridge to commit suicide, and only 25 were known to have survived. While the average survival rate jumping from bridging is 15 percent, the rate at the Golden Gate Bridge is just 4 percent. So Hines is also lobbying for the construction of protective grids around the bridge to protect lives.
There are many times when your life is submerged in sadness, you are depressed, and you feel frustrated and deadlocked. But is it not “fire proves gold, adversity makes the man?” Because every life is very precious, please do not for a moment “not thinking clearly,” make the wrong decision. Please respect yourself and live well. By that you are also cherishing your loved ones, cherishing the beautiful things that life has bestowed on you, and cherishing this life!