Kevin Hines and Suicide Awareness Month

2 min read · 4 sections

The 4200-foot suspension span.

The 270.9-foot drop from the middle of the overpass into the unforgiving waters below.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California is quite a spectacle to witness firsthand. Even the online images alone are breathtaking.

Unfortunately, this landmark has served as a solution to many who desired to end their lives.

Kevin Hines was one such individual on September 25, 2000.

By the time it was too late to change his mind, Kevin had already taken the fateful leap and was plummeting to what he believed was destined to be his untimely death at the tender age of 19. Feelings of regret shot through his mind. He wanted a do-over, but gravity was eager to follow through on a chain of events that had already been initiated.

In a last-second attempt to save his own life in mid-air, his experience as a wrestler kicked in. Kevin contorted his body with the plan to hit the water feet first, instead of head first.

His body crashed into the river valley, and was kept afloat by the perfect timing of a sea lion until the Coast Guard came to rescue him minutes later.

He survived. One of very few survivors of a jump from this San Francisco bridge. Kevin was left with two shattered vertebrae, a fractured ankle, and the rest of his life.

Share a Story and Save Many Lives

Both Brother George Cherry and Monsignor Michael Harriman later inspired Kevin to become a suicide prevention activist. Brother George is a Franciscan monk who visited Kevin in the hospital shortly after his suicide attempt when he had just come out of surgery on his back. He encouraged him to share his story with others.

Msgr. Harriman, Kevin’s pastor at St. Cecilia Church where he was baptized, confirmed, and would later get married, also encouraged the young suicide survivor to share his story. And although Kevin didn’t know what that would actually look like or entail at the time, before long, he was speaking in front of dozens of teenagers doing just that; sharing his experience.

Kevin saved six lives with his story. It was at that moment that he realized the power behind his words to be able to move others.

Suicide Awareness Month and Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and specifically, the week of Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020 through Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 is National Suicide Prevention Week. This is an opportunity to raise awareness about suicidal warning signs and risk factors, mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction.

Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. In recent months, due to stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, suicide ideation has become more prevalent. Some further statistics regarding suicide in America show that:

In raising awareness, we can all do our part to reach out to those at risk, potentially open doors for them to get the help they need, and inevitably save lives.

American Addiction Centers is the nationwide leader in treating those with drug and alcohol addictions, along with co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. AAC knows that it’s never just one variable that leads to suicidal thoughts or suicide, but rather it’s the culmination of many. You’re never alone. Reach out to get the help you need for yourself or for a loved one.

Mental Health Disorders and Suicide

Battling bipolar disorder and hearing the voices in his head encouraging him to end his life on that cold day in September, Kevin Hines is all-too familiar with the importance of addressing mental health. When it comes to youth and mental health, Kevin says that adults need to stop referring to what they’re going through as a “phase,” to stop normalizing teenage moodiness, and to stop blaming emotions on their hormones. Instead, he believes that adults need to recognize their struggles, accept them, and then validate them.

The majority of suicides are linked to psychiatric disease. Substance use disorders and psychosis, as well as depression, are the most pertinent risk factors. Anxiety and trauma-related disorders, among others, add to the risk factors as well.Woman seeing light during suicide awareness month

The leading cause of disability in the United is from neuropsychiatric disorders. This accounts for 18.7% of premature mortality and all years of life lost to disability. And inevitably, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Maintaining Mental Health

In order to maintain solid physical health, mental health must be intact because the two go hand-in-hand. Mental illnesses (e.g., anxiety, depression) impact individual’s ability to execute healthy behaviors, which leads to physical health problems.

This is the reason Kevin takes such good care of himself. He has a 10-step routine that he follows, which includes a regimen of proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and therapies.

Kevin Hines values life. He values joy. He values hope. If you’re battling a substance use disorder and are having suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone.

People do care and want to help you. You can choose to live. Choose to get help. Choose to be like Kevin. He’s walked in your shoes, and although his feet may be tired from his journey, he’s able to stand tall to help save the lives of others. Call one of AAC’s admissions navigators at 888-753-4516 to get the help you need today.

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