Kevin Hines shares the importance of brain health and suicide awareness


Story and visuals by Bree Samani, NewsNetNebraska

After jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in September 2000, Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and activist, was inspired to share the importance of mental health and life with people across the world.

Hines came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Union Auditorium on Thursday Nov. 2, 2017,  to share his survival story to a auditorium packed with people. The crowd was so large, that there were 80 people turned away due to a capacity limit. Crowds of people stood in the aisles and sat in their chairs waiting to hear Hines’ life-changing story. 

The night began with a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives to suicide. “Raise your hand if you have ever lost anyone to suicide,” Hines said.

“If we are going to do this story any justice, we are going to have to go way back; to day one,” Hines said.

Hines started to tell his story from his birth into a family with one brother and two parents who were involved heavily with drugs. He was later taken into child protective services, leading to his adoption into a new family.

Despite covering a dark topic, Hines was sure to include some comedy to liven the crowd. “My dad would breathe like Darth Vader when he would sleep,” Hines joked.

Hines began to experience the effects of mental illness at a young age. While he was in a school play at age 17, he had a mental breakdown and believed the audience was going to kill him. He was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “I never wanted to tell anyone my thoughts. I didn’t want people to think I was crazy,” Hines said.

By the time Hines reached age 19, he was motivated to take his own life. “As a mere child, I went to the Golden Gate Bridge to destroy myself,” he said.

Within milliseconds of jumping off the bridge, Hines regretted his decision. Following his suicide attempt Hines was admitted into a psychiatric ward. Hines said between the time he attempted till this point in his life, he has been admitted into a ward seven times. Eventually Hines learned how to take care of his mental health from a Times magazine he found in the ward. “I changed my diet, exercise and sleep routine,” he said.

In order to prevent incidents like this, people need to better understand mental health, Hines said. Hines believes schools should focus more on mental health awareness.

“We don’t teach brain health in school, instead we teach drug and alcohol prevention,” Hines said. “Our brains are the single most powerful part of our bodies.”

Throughout the talk, Hines shared statistics about suicide. According to Hines, suicide is the second leading cause of death between 20 to 24 year olds and nearly 20 percent of the world’s population suffers from a mental issue or disorder.

“Physical pain in noticeable and people will treat you nice for it, but brain pain is more devastating,” Hines said.

Hines finished his story by telling the crowd that he will never die by suicide, even though he continues to have suicidal thoughts.  “I will die of natural causes,” he said.

Following his story, Hines gave listeners advice about how to deal with mental pain. “The only way to surpass pain is to be honest about it,” he said. “Depression lies to you. You are valuable and you do matter.”

He then addressed those who are currently struggling with depression and having suicidal thoughts. “We are not here for personal betterment or gain. We are here to help them rise up,” Hines said.

Following Hines’ talk, crowds flooded the hallway where they were able to talk with Hines one on one. People had Hines sign books, take pictures with him and even asked for hugs.

Michaela Winje, a UNL freshman said she learned a lot from Hines’ story. “Although it was about such a negative experience, he really built up from it, so it was very inspiring,” Winje said.

Moises Padilla, assistant director of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center and Oasis said it was important for Kevin Hines to speak at UNL. “It’s something that many times college students face and so I hope his story will encourage students,” Padilla said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. UNL’s CAPS hotline is 402-472-7450. Both numbers are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

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