Suicide Prevention Advocate Hines Speaks To Students At Warsaw

Suicide prevention advocate Kevin Hines speaks at the Performing Arts Center at Warsaw Community High School. Photo by Jackie Gorski

Warsaw Community High School students were able to listen to a suicide survivor, public speaker and documentary filmmaker speak about his suicide attempt experience Monday in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Hines spoke to students to share his story of hope “during a multi-day event that teaches people of all ages the art of wellness and the ability to survive pain with true healing and recovery resilience,” according to a news release about the event. His speech is in conjunction with a “Question, Persuade & Refer” suicide prevention training Warsaw Community Schools will have Sept. 18, where the Bowen Center will offer training on how to respond to those in crisis.

On Sept. 25, 2000, Kevin Hines, then 19, went to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and attempted suicide by jumping off. He said at the time he jumped, he thought he was useless and was a burden to his family.

“I was wrong,” he said. “I could not see the forest through the trees. I only saw pain and that pain made me believe I had to take my life.”

Hines was born Aug. 30, 1981, to parents who had no feasible means of income. They, and his brother, lived in a crack motel.

“We started our lives in squalor,” he said.

Hines stated while his biological parents may have loved him and his brother, they did not take care of them.

After his mother gave birth to Hines and his brother, she and the boys’ father started doing hardcore drugs and alcohol. Hines and his brother – both infants – were found by police on a motel bed surrounded by drug paraphernalia and suffering from bronchitis.

Hines’ brother died.

“The first three to nine months of an infant’s life are the most crucial to their ability to connect, to develop,” he said. “If your first three to nine months of life are filled with nothing but trauma, guess what? At some point, something’s gotta give and you’re going to have a hard time.”

Hines was adopted as a toddler. He said he was given everything he could have ever wanted by his foster parents.

He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 with psychotic features, which was something his biological parents also had.

He has paranoid delusions, panic attacks, anxiety issues and manic depression issues.

When Hines jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, he stated within the first few milliseconds he let go, he “had instant regret for his actions.”

He fell 220 feet, or 25 stories, at 75 miles per hour in 4 seconds, he said.

He was one of 39 people that survived jumping from the bridge. Of the people who have jumped off the bridge, 99% died.

“They can never tell their stories,” he said.

Of the 25 survivors that are still alive today, 19 came forward and said they had the exact same reaction Hines said.

Hines had severe trauma to his body when he landed in the water. He shattered his vertebrae and missed severing his spine by 2 millimeters.

He was laying on his back in the water, feeling something slimy swim around him, keeping him afloat. At the time, he thought it was a shark. He later found out it was a sea lion. He was picked up by the Coast Guard.

Hines, however, stated he is not the only one he’s known who has tried to take their life as he has lost eight people to suicide, including his biological mother and one of his closest friends.

“Today is not how they died. Today is not about the day they died,” he said. “Today is about how they lived before they ever they got sick in the first place. The beauty that they were, the light that protruded within them, the last time we saw them smile, the words of reason they gave us, the time we heard them live. Today is about finding that light at the end of every darkened tunnel and finding hope in spite of the pain.”

Hines also said he celebrates their lives on their birthdays, when they were brought into the world without the emotional pain that brought them out of it.

“Our thoughts do not have to become our actions,” Hines said, also stating he still deals with issues from his bipolar disease.

“I live with chronic thoughts to take my life,” he said, also stating he still has every single symptom he’s always had. He will sometimes be in a crowd or on a stage and will feel his life is in danger.

However, he does attribute a few things to not giving in.

Hines said his biggest strengths are what he calls the three F’s: faith, family and friends. He also goes to therapy twice a week using the Talkspace app. Hines also has a workout and diet routine he follows.

It’s about finding the right person that can empathize with you.

Every time he has suicidal thoughts, he turns to someone he loves and tells them he needs help right then.

“Human beings by design are meant to survive,” he said.

Other events Hines will speak at today include:

• 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Grace College and Seminary chapel at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, free.

• 1 to 2 p.m., Lakeview Middle School, free.