My name is John Kevin Hines. On September 25, 2000, I tried to
kill myself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
I believe that by God’s hands I failed. This wasn’t the first time
that I tried to commit suicide; it was my second attempt and this
time I was determined to succeed. I had felt lost since I was 16
years old. I was chronically ill with bipolar disorder and severe
depression; I heard voices echoing in my head, “Jump now, you must
die, you are a bad person.” And I believed them. I went out to the
bridge because I, in my distorted reality, thought I was a burden
to those whom I loved. I believed that by killing myself I was
saving them from that burden — quite the opposite from the common
misconception that suicidal people are taking the coward’s way
More than 1,300 suicides have been recorded at the Golden Gate
Bridge, but that figure is significantly low; the deaths at the
bridge have far exceeded that number. Many people have jumped in
the cloak of darkness and have never been found. Currents have
washed them away. Sharks have devoured them. They remain missing to
their families, their significant others, their friends.
There are varying factors that lead people to commit suicide,
but of the more than 31,500 people nationwide who take their own
lives each year, 90 percent have been diagnosed with some form of
mental disease. Those people lived with the pain of depression and
could not even look at themselves in the mirror anymore. We as a
society have a great deal to learn and accept about mental
illness — like that it derives from an imbalance of chemicals in
the brain, that it is just like having the HIV virus: Both of these
can be deadly without treatment. Worldwide, suicide due to mental
illness kills more individuals than HIV, drunk driving, and
homicides put together.
Warning Signs of a Person in Trouble A suicidal person may
• talk about committing suicide
• have trouble eating or sleeping
• withdraw from friends and/or social activities
• lose interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
• give away prized possessions
• have attempted suicide before
• take unnecessary risks
• have had a recent severe loss
• be preoccupied with death and dying
• lose interest in personal appearance
• prepare for death by making out a will and final arrangements
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call 211 or the
Access Team at (888) 868-1649, or call the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK.
These people are our brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers,
fathers, friends, colleagues, school mates, and people of any other
relation — blood or otherwise — anyone you could possibly imagine.
Many suicides due to mental disorders are preventable, no matter
what the situation, no matter how deep the depression. If help were
readily available during the time of their distress, more lives
could be saved and perhaps this epidemic would put itself to
Suicide Prevention Benefit Concert:
The second annual Singers in the Round: Sun., Sept. 24, 2006
dinner 6-7:30 p.m.; music 7:30 p.m. SOhO, 1221 State St., S.B.,
962-7776 or www.sohosb.com.
Forum: Featured speaker John Kevin Hines tells his story of
surviving a suicide attempt by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge
at age 19. Wed., Sept. 27, 2006, 6:30 p.m. San Marcos High School
Auditorium, 4750 Hollister Ave.
For more information on the forum, contact Joni Kelly at the
Glendon Association: call 681-0415, email
If the media and government could focus the same amount of
attention on the suicides in our country as they do on the
homicides, maybe then people would understand how serious this
problem is — there are double the number of suicides as homicides
in America yearly. Until insurance companies and those in power are
forced to acknowledge that having a brain disease is just like
having a heart disease, we will go on losing tens of thousands of
our beautiful people in the U.S. and 1 million worldwide every year
I hope those of you who read my story will come away with
something to think about, or better yet, take action. I hope that
my story will help save lives. I think that with education we could
stamp out the stigma associated with suicide and suicide attempts.
There are many deserving causes to join, but suicide prevention is
the one closest to my heart. I am lucky to have come into contact
with Santa Barbara’s Glendon Association, an organization dedicated
to preventing suicides. I am truly fortunate to be able to author
this article, seeing as by all accounts I should be dead right now.
Do I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive? No, just one
of the blessed. I am here for a reason — to help spread the word of
suicide prevention. I will give it my all.