RICHMOND, Ind. — You are not alone.
That is the message that suicide survivor Kevin Hines and other panelists shared with 150 community members last week.
September marked National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month, and on Wednesday, Sept. 27, Meridian Community Health participated in the conversation with its annual Speaker Series at the Holiday Inn.
A sea lion contributed to Hines’ rescue
The event, held in Richmond since 2019, hosted Hines, who on Monday, Sept. 25, 2000, at the age of 19, took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge and threw himself over the railing with a running start.
Immediately, in that moment, Hines told attendees, he felt instant regret. He readjusted his positioning so that he hit the water feet-first instead of head-first, but falling 220 feet (25 stories) at 75 miles per hour caused him excruciating pain and shattered two of his vertebrae.
Two millimeters more would have severed his spine, he was told later.
But a sea lion in the area, initially thought by Hines to be a shark, kept him up in the water long enough until the U.S. Coast Guard was able to reach and rescue him.
Hines is now a speaker on the issues of suicide prevention and mental health, sharing his story across the globe and has successfully campaigned for a safety net under the Golden Gate Bridge, starting in 2018 that is scheduled to be completed this year.
Panelists included Richmond Mayor David Snow, Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter, Richmond Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright, Regional Vice President of Clinical Services for Meridian Health Lisa Suttle, and Meridian Health Services therapist Doug Hemmerling, with G101.3 FM radio host Rick Duncan serving as the moderator for the event.
For Mayor Snow, it was not his first time serving on the panel, and he looks forward to being able to serve on it once again in future years.
“It’s a great opportunity for community members and those who care about mental health to come here and hear from different community leaders and being able to ask them questions,” Snow said. “I was honored to be invited yet again to sit on this panel of experts and people who cared much about this community.”
Snow was able to share some of the mental health initiatives that the city of Richmond has implemented in his time as mayor, such as having social workers available for emergency calls.
Following the discussion, Hines and panelists answered questions from the audience about mental health, including some personal questions in regards to their own mental health struggles.