From the Depths of Despair to the Embrace of Hope: Kevin Hines’ Triumph Over the Golden Gate
On September 25, 2000, Kevin Hines stood on the precipice of the Golden Gate Bridge, haunted by the words echoing in his head: “You must die.” Battling depression and bipolar disorder, he took a running start and leaped over the rail, seeking what he believed to be the easiest way to end his life. However, as soon as he cleared the railing and felt the rush of the wind around him, an unexpected feeling washed over him: regret.
Midair, Hines made a split-second decision to alter his trajectory, ensuring his legs would hit the water first. Plunging 220 feet at approximately 75 miles per hour, the impact was akin to hitting concrete. Miraculously, he survived, but not without severe injuries. Two shattered vertebrae and the revelation that he was only 2 millimeters away from severing his spine marked the physical toll of that moment.
In the agonizing aftermath, struggling to stay afloat, Hines encountered an unexpected savior – a sea lion that nudged him and helped him stay buoyant until the Coast Guard arrived. This encounter, on the day he took what he describes as “the worst action” of his life, became a pivotal moment that transformed his trajectory and set him on a new mission: suicide prevention.
Hines’ second act, dedicated to preventing others from experiencing the pain he had endured, became a powerful force for change. His major goal: advocating for a safety net on the Golden Gate Bridge to save those contemplating suicide. The bridge, while an iconic structure, has a dark history, with over 1,700 confirmed suicides since its opening in 1937, according to the Bridge Rail Foundation.
The foundation, a nonprofit committed to preventing suicides at public facilities, estimates that, on average, someone is stopped from jumping off the bridge every two or three days. Despite these efforts, the suicide rate in the United States has surged by 33% in the past two decades, making it the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 34, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In response to this alarming trend, Kevin Hines and his wife, Margaret, founded a foundation dedicated to educating and training communities across the country on mental wellness and suicide prevention. Their mission is to combat the prevailing apathy in society and encourage individuals to engage with those in pain.
Reflecting on his own near-fatal encounter, Hines emphasizes the importance of human connection. He made a pact with himself on that fateful day: if anyone engaged him, asked if he was okay, he would not have jumped. His message is clear: “If you see someone in pain, it’s your duty to walk up and engage and just try to get them to open up to you and try to share what is going on in their mind. You can be a conduit for change.”