About 2,000 people have leapt from the Golden Gate Bridge in suicide attempts since the bridge’s construction in 1937. During that time, only 36 have survived.
Kevin Hines is one of them.
The suicide survivor will share his story Saturday evening (Feb. 11) via Skype at Hope For Healing, a mental health awareness seminar at Southern State Community College, sponsored by SSCC and Hillsboro Christian Academy.
According to his website, Hines jumped off the bridge in September of 2000 in an attempt to kill himself, but miraculously survived. In an interview with People magazine, Hines said the minute he jumped, he felt instant regret.
“I said to myself, ‘What have I done, I don’t want to die, God please save me,’” Hines told the magazine last year. “I recognized that I made the greatest mistake in my life and I thought it was too late.”
Since then, Hines has dedicated his life to staying mentally healthy and helping others do the same. Hines has received numerous awards from a variety of mental health organizations, and has served as a member of San Francisco’s Mental Health Board. As a mental health advocate, Hines has spoken in congressional hearings on mental health legislation and conducts policy work as an ambassador to the National Council for Behavioral Health. His story was featured in the 2006 film “The Bridge” by film director and producer Eric Steel. Hines also tells his story in a memoir entitled “Cracked, Not Broken.”
In the 16 years since his suicide attempt, Hines has shared that story with millions in an effort to help others understand the realities of suicide and mental illness.
Madison Hatfield, a Hillsboro Christian Academy student and the coordinator of the Hope for Healing event, said her own struggle with suicidal thoughts and mental illness was part of what prompted her to plan the seminar. Hatfield said she and other HCA students recently attended a leadership conference hosted by pro football player and motivational speaker Anthony Munoz, where Munoz challenged those in attendance to complete a community project.
“Everyone in my school agreed that mental illness is something that affects almost every single person,” whether directly or indirectly, Hatfield said. “It’s so important in today’s society to know what to do if you or someone you know is facing the problem… So many people are depressed or self-mutilate because they don’t know how to get help, and many people don’t know how to help them. It’s kind of a hush-hush thing in this society, I think. People don’t want to talk about it because they’re ashamed of it.”
Hatfield said she wonders if she would still be alive if her parents hadn’t known how to help her when she was dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“Three years ago, my parents took me to counseling every Tuesday for five months, because they knew what to do when I was feeling suicidal,” Hatfield said. “If they hadn’t known what to do, I probably wouldn’t be here. So it definitely means a lot to me.”
The event will feature Hines and several other speakers offering knowledge on suicide prevention, including Shawna Hite from the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, Kathy McClain, social sciences professor at SSCC, and Tom Payton, career and counseling services coordinator for SSCC.
Hatfield said the college put on a similar event that resulted in one of the attendees actually saving an acquaintance’s life. She said she hopes this event will do the same, if only for one person.
“The end goal is for someone to save a life,” she said.
The event will be held Saturday evening from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in room 107 at the SSCC central campus. Refreshments will be served.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.