Building hope around suicide

Suicide survivor shares his story with Quinnipiac

By on October 2, 2018

The inspiring story of Kevin Hines, who attempted and survived suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, was spread among Quinnipiac students at a screening of Hines’s recent documentary Suicide: The Ripple Effect, Monday, Oct. 1.

Amy Thorpe | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Since his suicide attempt at age 19, the California native has made it his mission to combat societal stigmas and the occurrence of suicide by “fostering a critical bridge of hope between life and death for people caught in the pain of living with serious mental illness, difficult life circumstances and more.” His documentary is an extension of much of the groundbreaking motivational work he has done and encapsulates how he has utilized his experiences to teach others the tools necessary to help those in need.

The screening was sponsored by the Quinnipiac Department of Psychology. Psychology Professor Clorinda Velez was optimistic about the potential impact Hines’s unique voice would have on students.

“I hope students learn more about what suicide is, who is at risk and how to help those around them,” Velez said. “I think Kevin would like us all to walk away with a sense of hope for our futures.”

The auditorium was buzzing with discussion as students flowed in and quickly filled most of the seats in the room. Pamphlets detailing counseling resources were made available to attendees at the entrance, emphasizing the supportive atmosphere that was present throughout the night.

The film began with a description of Hines’s tumultuous past. On the day of his attempt 18 years ago, Hines was certain that death was the only way to end his two year long battle with bipolar disorder, mania, paranoia and hallucinations. As soon as his hands left the opposite side of the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge, he began a 220-foot free fall that would reach 75 mph before he hit the water, breaking three of his vertebrae and an ankle. Regarding the instant regret of the jump, Hines said in a 2018 interview with Psycom, “I realized I made the greatest mistake of my life.”

Approximately 2,000 people have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, making it one of the most common places to take ones life, according to The American Journal of Psychology. Hines is in the one percent that have survived the fall.

Although he still lives with mental health problems today, Hines has learned to use his support network to keep him alive. Through his national and international speeches and collaboration with mental health awareness groups, he has enabled others to do the same. Hines has touched and saved countless lives and has helped to ensure the construction of a suicide net on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The importance of the documentary was not lost on those who know Hines’ story.

“Kevin’s message is so important most simply because it’s about life and death,” Velez said. “Death by suicide is not uncommon, and is in fact one of the leading causes of death for college students, yet we are reluctant to discuss it. Kevin works hard to show that even when you feel most lonely, you are not alone.”

Suicide is the second most common cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. As for the bigger picture in the United States, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sites that 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year.

“I think the documentary was a very effective way to raise suicide awareness,” sophomore film major Julianna Coscia said. “You never get to see stories from survivors like that, and hearing about his experience and memory of the day he tried to take his life gave me chills. His whole story was so powerful.”

If you or somebody you know is dealing with a mental illness or are contemplating suicide, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or email care@quinnipiac.edu for support.

Hines put it best when he said to Buzzfeed in 2015, “life is the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. And if you’re suffering mentally, don’t wait like I did, sitting in denial for so long. Because recovery happens. I’m living proof.”

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