John Kevin Hines, commonly known as Kevin Hines, is a suicide survivor and suicide prevention speaker, who gained nationwide fame for surviving an attempt at taking his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. His story gained much coverage and he has since become an activist promoting suicide prevention.
Hines has been featured on CNN, HuffPost, ABC News, Larry King Now, and The Today Show. He has appeared at over 2,000 college and university campuses worldwide, and over 3,000 high schools sharing his story, "Triumph Over Adversity, The Kevin Hines Story." He co-founded the Kevin and Margaret Hines Foundation (KMHF) a 501(c)(3) organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. The organization provides funding and education for suicide prevention in the United States and around the world.
Early life and progression of events
Hines was nine months old when he was adopted by Pat and Debbie Hines, who were both from the San Francisco area. At ten, he was put on Tegretol to help control epileptic seizures. The medicine worked well for him. He was athletic as a teen, becoming a football player and wrestler. At sixteen, he was taken off of the medicine because he'd had no more seizures. The Tegretol had unknowingly been suppressing characteristics of bipolar disorder, and combined outside stresses impacted him as well. Around that time, Pat left Debbie and Hines remained with her. Debbie said Hines changed drastically. Hines was also deeply affected by the suicide of his drama teacher. Manifestations of his depression included regular mood swings, paranoia, hallucinations and voices, as well as becoming harder to control. In January 2000, Hines moved in with Pat after a serious argument with Debbie. In September of that year, his girlfriend broke up with him. Over that weekend, he wrote and discarded a number of suicide notes, until the seventh one, which he was satisfied with. He told his father “I don’t want to be here any more”, and his father said “You have an obligation to be here. We love you.” On Monday, September 25, Pat was concerned about his son and offered to spend the day with him watching movies or bring him to his workplace. Hines declined, and hugged and kissed his father goodbye as he thought he'd never see him again, as Pat dropped him off at City College. Hines said he'd actually felt fine, because he was satisfied in knowing he was going to end his pain. He took a bus from City College to the Golden Gate bridge.
ABC News reported that Hines began hearing voices in his head telling him to die. On his walk up the pathway, he wept. Hines contemplated not jumping, reasoning that if any person showed that they cared about him, he would not commit suicide. A female police officer and bridge workers passed him without stopping. A woman with a German accent did come up to him and asked him to take her picture at the bridge, but she did not mention anything about his tears or ask about his well-being. After she left, he took several steps and threw himself over the rail. After leaping, Hines, as described by Time, had instant regret: "When my hands left that rail—and my legs curled over—as soon as I left the bridge, I thought, 'I don't want to die'." He had gone over the railing head first, but when he regretted his decision, turned himself around to land in the water legs first. The impact force was comparable to slamming into a concrete wall. After he'd surfaced, he felt a creature nudging his body which he initially thought was a shark trying to eat him, and punched at it. The creature was later identified as a sea lion by a witness. The sea lion helped keep Hines afloat until he was rescued by the Coast Guard.
The New York Post reported: "Now Hines, who - when he leapt - had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, tells his story to at-risk groups around the nation, urging people to get treatment for mental illness and helping them realize that suicide is not the answer." The San Francisco Magazine documents Hines' life after the jump: "He now works as a mental-health advocate, traveling the world to share his story in the hopes of preventing suicide."
Public and Media Appearances
Hines has been featured by CNN, HuffPost, ABC News, Larry King Now, The Today Show, BuzzFeed, PBS, 9 news Australia, The New York Post, Time, Business Insider, Newsweek, Forbes, Fox News, Reddit, and other media outlets.
Kevin and Margaret Hines Foundation
Hine's mission, through his foundation, is to provide mental health education and suicide prevention information. The organization is run largely by his wife, Margaret, and a small team of leaders. Methods for achieving their mission include worldwide public speaking engagements, research initiatives, applicable education through wellness programs, and multi-media projects that focus on mental wellness for holistic health, including a YouTube Channel that focuses on mental health and a Documentary Film, Suicide: The Ripple Effect. The film was awarded Best Story at the Nice International Film Festival in Nice, France in 2018.
One of the projects Hines has been passionate about is to have a safety net erected around the Golden Gate bridge to catch people who jump. The net has started construction and the project is scheduled to be completed in 2021. When Hines saw the first parts of net, he wept and said “This is one of the most special days of my life.”
Awards and nominations
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Lifesaver of the Year Award
- Mental Health America: The Clifford Whittingham Beers Award
- Young Minds Advocacy: Mental Health Champion
- NoStigmas: Hero Award
- National Council Community Behavioral Healthcare: Lifetime Achievement Award
- San Francisco Police Department: Commendation Award