Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on Sept. 24, 2000.
He’s become a brain/mental health advocate, memoirist, documentary filmmaker, and international speaker on the issue of mental health and suicide.
I had a chance to sit down with Kevin Thursday when he spoke at SUNY Fredonia. I’ll post audio of the presentation when I figure out how the hell to combine four huge audio files into one monstrous audio file.
I got to ask Kevin some questions. Here’s what he said:
Q – What do you want someone in crisis right now to know?
A – “Today is not tomorrow. Just because things are dark right now does not mean that they won’t get better tomorrow.”
Q – What would you ask someone contemplating suicide to think about before they act on suicidal ideations?
A – “Think back to your life before you ever had suicidal thoughts, and try to figure out how you can get back to that place.”
Q – What have you learned through the process of recovery that might have prevented you from jumping that day?
A – “Our thoughts do NOT need to become our actions.”
Q – How can someone currently in crisis advocate for themselves?
A – “Step back from your pain. Find a way to educate yourself about suicide so you can beat it.”
Q – How can family and friends be most helpful to someone in crisis?
A – “Listen. Listen intently. Listen to understand. Don’t listen to judge, or to reply.”
Q – How can family and friends identify when someone they love might be in crisis?
A – “Changes in their patterns. When someone isn’t themselves. Someone who eats well isn’t eating. Someone who sleeps well isn’t sleeping. Those types of changes.”
Q – What can those with lived experiences (of mental illness or suicide attempts) do to help the issue?
A – “Share the story of your lived experience. Share the story of how you live now, in recovery, every day.”
Here are some pictures from Kevin’s speech.
I think what struck me most about Kevin’s speech is the fact that he remembers minute details from the day of his suicide attempt that I can’t even begin to hope to recover about the day my life changed the most significantly. I’m jealous of his ability to remember details but also his ability to weave the narrative of his life with the universal takeaways that transform his experience into his lesson for the world. Mostly, I’m jealous of his ability to be humorous and his timing. He had people crying and laughing nearly simultaneously. He is a killer storyteller. I learned a lot about craft just listening to him and watching him deliver his story. He executed it impressively. And that’s from someone who has hundreds of credit hours in the craft of fiction and nonfiction.