Fifteen years ago Kevin Hines took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Once at the bridge, Hines leaped over the railing and fell 22o feet into the water below. He survived. About 98% of the people who make that same choice do not survive, Hines was very lucky.
Hines survival of his suicide attempt is nothing shy of a miracle. Experts later told Hines that he landed in one of the very few positions that would not instantly break his body. At the time of Hines’ jump, a woman nearby happened to have a car phone (cell phones were not as popular then) and called the Coast Guard, where they quickly deployed a boat to the area where Hines landed.
The drop is equivalent to falling from a 25-story building. It only took 4 seconds for Hines to hit the water. In that 4 seconds, Hines’ life changed forever.
Hines suffers from Bi-Polar disorder and on the day of his jump, then 19, Hines had been at an all time low. For weeks prior he had been hearing voices telling him to end his life and jump. He gave away his prized possessions, music, comic book collections and other sentimental items.
As Hines fell, traveling roughly 75 miles per hour…something changed. In the four seconds that Hines was free falling, his mind changed. He no longer wanted to die.
All of the hardships, crazy thoughts and sadness had faded. Hines has been quoted saying, “I wonder how many others (from) that 4-second fall felt the same way?”
Situation like Hines happen every day. The Golden Gate Bridge actually has one jumper every 10 days on average. This happens in every state in American and in every city or small town. We read about it, see it on the news and it is something that effects us, whether we know the person who jumped or not.
It makes you think. Finding a survivor such as Hines is a rarity, sadly. But having a survivor like Hines gives the world a better understanding of suicide and especially suicide, any type of suicide…not just by jumping.
After hearing about people who have jumped off of the large 120 foot high bridge in our town here in Maine, I have personally pondered the question “I wonder what goes through their mind as they are falling and if they regret the irreversible decision that they have just made?” Having a survivor like Hines allows us to get a rare sense and answer to that exact question.
An article like this is simple, and can help others.
Officials who patrol Niagara Falls in New York have very similar stories to Hines. Although they are not the ones who have chosen to end their lives, they have been forced to watch many, many people end their lives there. People who choose to end their lives in Niagara falls are presented with a very similar situation as those who choose to jump from a bridge. There is a small window of time, prior to concluding the act of suicide, where the individual has time to actively think.
The officials in Niagara Falls state that when individuals get into the water at the beginning of the falls, they have a plan of getting swept away over the large falls and ending their life. It takes time however, to get over those falls. Most often in those few seconds, individuals call for help, but sadly at that point there is no option for rescue.
Hines turned his life around from the very moment he leaped from that bridge. Hines remembers being pulled into the Coast Guard’s boat and hearing the Coast Guard say, “You’re a miracle kid.” Hines was given a second chance at life and does not intend to waste it. Hines has since received help for his Bi-Polar disorder and is still actively in treatment. He shares his story often, doing seminars and speaking with people who are wearing the same shoes he once wore all those years ago.
If you are reading this and contemplating any of the above scenarios or any type of suicidal act, remember that there will be time. Whether it is one second or 5 seconds, there will be time where you will be forced to think about what is happening. No one can be certain what type of thoughts will go through your mind, but one thing is certain…no matter what the thoughts are, there is no turning back. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, take a moment and think about that. Talk to something, reach out, be heard.
The human mind is an amazing thing. No matter the level of hurt, pain, sadness or anger, our minds can and will overcome it, but often times you can’t do it on your own…and that’s o.k.
For help with suicidal thoughts, here are some helpful, discrete resources.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255
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