Suicide survivor shares his compelling story at UNL
Produced by Zach Penrice, NewsNetNebraska
Kevin Hines is a suicide survivor and activist from San Francisco who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. In 2000, Hines attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, the most popular suicide spot in the entire world, where over 2000 people have leapt to their death since it was built in 1937. Hines lived, and is one of 36 people to ever survive the nearly 30 story fall to the frigid water below. Now, he travels the country sharing his story and acting as a guiding light for countless individuals.
“I know that storytelling has a transformative effect on people’s lives and the ability to change their lives,” Hines said. “And stories like mine that cover triumph over tremendous adversity into recovery actually can help people who are suffering right now.”
Hines is now a recovering suicide survivor, still coping with his problems every day. He talked about that September day 17 years ago when he made the decision to take his own life, and that immediate feeling he felt once he leapt from the Golden Gate Bridge.
“The millisecond my hands left that rail, and my legs cleared it, I felt instant regret for my actions,” Hines said. “And the absolute recognition that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life and it was too late.”
One in five college students suffer from some sort of depression, and one in 12 students make a suicide plan. That’s why Hines makes a point to talk to the younger generation. He was 19 when he decided to commit suicide, and he’s been changing countless lives since.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Hines talked for nearly two hours in front of a sold-out crowd at the Nebraska Union auditorium.
UNL student Haydn Muir understands the importance of having keynote speakers like Hines come to campus and engage with students who may be suffering from mental illness.
“I myself don’t have suicidal thoughts, but I have people in my life who do,” Muir said. “For people in that room tonight that are having those thoughts, it must have meant the world to them to have a guy like this who does what he does.”
Since his suicide attempt, Hines has spent time in a psych ward on seven separate occasions. But he’ll never make the same mistake he made when he was 19 ever again. If something is wrong, he’ll make sure to speak up.
“I never wanted to die by suicide, I thought it was the only option,” Hines said. “But on the day I went to the Golden Gate Bridge, the voices in my head were overtaking me and they told me what I had to do.”
That day was 205 months ago, and Hines is now a changed man. He still lives with his mental health problems, but he now knows how to cope with them. That is why he travels the country sharing his story with anyone and everyone he can. He’s been given the second chance that so many haven’t received. After all, less than 1% of people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge survive.
For this reason, Hines knew a long time ago that he wanted to spread his message and raise awareness of mental health problems any way he could.
“It’s a story that can have this effect on people’s lives, because there’s a ripple effect of hope going on that we’re trying to spread,” Hines said. “It’s really simple, today in this pain is not tomorrow.”
Before Hines walked off the stage in front of over 300 UNL students, he left them with his one last piece of life advice to carry home with them and spread to others.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift,” Hines said. “That is why it is called, ‘the present.’”