Mental health advocate Kevin Hines shared his story of regret Wednesday night in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom, after surviving his jump from the Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19.
Hines not only explained his story, but more importantly wanted each of the over 800 people in the audience to know that they could save a life.
He made a joke about how TCU students have the best smiles. As he walked through campus, every single person he smiled at, smiled back.
“A smile can save a life,” he said.
The day he jumped, all he wanted was for someone to ask if he was okay, he said. He said he would not have jumped if someone on that bus would have just asked him if he was okay.
“I sat on that bus, crying waterfalls, hoping someone would look upon me and ask me: Are you okay? Is something wrong? Can I help you?” he said.
It takes just one person, he said. If you see someone hurting or having a bad day, ask him or her one of those three questions.
“Take a seat and listen, because it’s important and it can save a life,” he said.
At the age of 17, Hines was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features, which caused him to not only hear voices in his head, but also made him hallucinate. He said he was convinced mail people had a plan to assassinate him, and that Steven Spielberg was going to pick him up and offer him the lead in a film.
In the midst of his Bipolar and his depression, he stumbled upon a website that promoted suicide. It said, “If you live in San Francisco, and you go to the Golden Gate Bridge, and you jump, you will die upon impact. Good luck!”
For someone in his position, with his sickness, he thought his time was up.
No matter how much he didn’t want to die, he was convinced that he had to because of the voices in his head telling him, “You must die, jump now.”
On the bus ride to the Golden Gate Bridge he desperately wanted to live, but he couldn’t fight the voices in his head. He felt like “had to” jump off the bridge, he said.
He jumped, and felt instant regret. He thought, “What have I just done? I don’t want to die. God save me.”
He hit the water like a ton of bricks, he said. He shattered parts of his spine, his legs were immobile, and he could barely move his arms, but he prayed for survival. He didn’t want to die.
“I attempted suicide because my brain was in trouble,” he said.
Hines is one of only 33 people to survive a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. And less than 2 percent of those who survived regained full mobility as Hines has, according to his website.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the largest suicide spot in the world. One person dies there every 10 days, he said. Last year, 43 died, 10 more than the year before, breaking the record.
Cortney Gumbleton, suicide prevention outreach coordinator for the Counseling and Mental Health Center, said she was happy with the way the event turned out.
“It was great, I’m just so glad he got to share his story with everyone, and I’m just hoping they realize suicide is truly the most preventable type a death and that every one of us has the power to do something,” Gumbleton said.
Gumbleton planned the event and was able to bring a community organization, student organizations and campus departments together to co-sponsor this event.
Sponsors included the TCU Counseling and Mental Health Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, TCU Panhellenic, TCU Active Minds and more.
Gumbleton thought the audience responded really well to Hines’ story.
Sydney Lovejoy, junior speech pathology major, heard about the event through her sorority and was very excited to hear Hines speak.
“I think it was awesome, he’s a great speaker and it’s really motivational to hear, even if you don’t necessarily relate completely, it just sheds perspective,” Lovejoy said.
After the event, Hines stayed to talk with audience members and sign copies of his book, Cracked Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present,“ Hines said at the end of his talk.