Suicide survivor encourages Columbus AFB
By Airman 1st Class John Day, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 01, 2015
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
"'Are you ok?' 'Is something wrong?' 'Can I help you?' These were the words I desperately needed to hear standing atop the Golden Gate Bridge walkway, crying hysterically, peering over that four-foot rail, looking down to the looming waters below me before I made my peace with the world and ran forward, catapulting me into freefall off the bridge."
Kevin Hines, author of "Cracked, Not Broken," visited Columbus Air Force Base April 28 to tell the story of his life to members of the audience during his motivational speech.
Hines' tale is a difficult one, with many ups and downs from his birth to present day. Early on in his life, he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and suffers from a multitude of issues including psychosis, extreme emotional pain, paranoid delusions, panic attacks, manic highs, dark depressions and more.
His story begins in 2001 at the age of 19, when he felt there was no other option for him but to take his own life. Hearing that jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge was a surefire way to end it all, he set out for the bridge.
On the bus leading him to his suspected doom, he began weeping uncontrollably. At this point, had anyone cared enough to confront him or ask him why he was distressed, he says he most likely would have reconsidered.
Upon arriving at the bridge, he contemplated his actions for some time before hurtling himself from the four-foot guardrail.
"The millisecond my hands left that rail and my legs went over it, I had an instant regret," Hines said. "I realized that moment I had made the greatest mistake of my life and I thought it was too late."
Hines entered the water and was severely injured, sustaining heavy internal bleeding and injuries to his back, legs and arms, but remained conscious. He swam up to the surface where he managed to stay afloat until the United States Coast Guard rescued him, thanks to a tip from a woman who watched Hines jump.
He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent many surgeries to save his life. His parents arrived at the hospital where they saw him covered in tubes and wires keeping him alive. Pat Hines, his father, said to him, "Kevin, you are going to be ok, I promise," words he would always keep with him and never forget.
Those words kept him fighting through the pain and allowed him to recover many months later, eventually even being able to walk again. Though he recovered physically, he had to spend time healing mentally in a psychiatric hospital.
"Holding in all the painful experiences your entire life does you and others around you no good," Hines said. "When you hold in your honesty, when you hold in your suffering, when you hold in your pain, it only brings more pain."
Hines talked about his experience in his first stay in the psychiatric hospital where he worked to get better every day. He began to incorporate regular exercise, healthy eating habits, visits to his therapist and learning about his disorder to help him move past his struggles.
The next 10 years of his life had more ups and downs in store. He was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, struggled with alcohol, had issues with taking his medications and nearly attempted suicide again. Good things came of this though, as he met and married his wife and finally became stable enough to stay out of the hospital.
Since 2011, he has never had to return to the hospital and swears that he will never attempt to hurt himself and those around him with suicide again.
"If you in this room know someone or are someone who has had suicidal thoughts but have never told anyone, I urge you to open your mouth and speak your truth," Hines said. "That pain will give up on you. You deserve to be here on this planet for a reason."
Hines thanked not only the Coast Guard members who saved his life in the San Francisco waters, but all service members as a whole for allowing him to speak before them.
"If you suffer mentally and you think nothing good can ever happen to you, it just means you have to work harder to get there," Hines said. "I know you guys know a lot about hard work. You are brave every day to keep this country safe and you travel the world to keep the rest of the rest of it safe."
His presentation ended by reinforcing his decision to never take a single thing in his life for granted and with a quote by which he lives his life.
"Yesterday is history," Hines said. "Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."