“A pain shared is a pain halved,” Kevin Hines told the more than 300 people who packed Santa Barbara Junior High’s Marjorie Luke Theatre on Monday for a suicide prevention and awareness event organized by Santa Barbara City College.
In 2000 at age 19, Mr. Hines jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to take his own life. Prior to the jump, Mr. Hines told the crowd, the voices in his head have been telling him that he was going to die that day by his own hands.
“My brain was breaking,” said Mr. Hines.
And once he jumped, he immediately regretted doing so. He seems grateful that he has lived to tell the tale. Mr. Hines survived the fall, with the help of a sea lion that propped him up from drowning, the U.S. Coast Guard that plucked him from the waters, the surgeon who operated on his broken vertebrae for more than 10 hours, and his family.
Fast forward almost two decades, Mr. Hines is traveling the world to share his story in the hope that it helps others know that they are not alone.
Mr. Hines’ story seemed to have greatly affected some in Monday’s crowd. When he appeared on stage dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, some in the audience began to cry while clapping. Support among the audience members was shown by holding hands and sharing tissues. During the Q&A session, adults and teenagers alike asked Mr. Hines further questions about suicide prevention and awareness. The theater turned into a space where attendees shared with each other their own stories.
Mr. Hines reminded those listening Monday night that this sharing of each others’ stories plays an important role on being here tomorrow. He repeatedly encouraged audience members to say the words “I need help now” if they are feeling pain.
“Never again silence your pain,” said Mr. Hines.
To facilitate the sharing, Mr. Hines repeatedly conducted a raise-your-hand-if experiment.
He asked the audience members to raise their hand if they have been hurt by another. Several people indeed raised their hands. A few seconds passed, and Mr. Hines told the crowd to keep their hands up and to put their other hand up if they themselves have hurt others. Almost all the individuals who raised their hands the first time around found themselves with two hands in the air.
“Pain can do one of two things,” said Mr. Hines. “It can destroy you, or you can let it build you. I choose the latter.”
To help more folks choose the latter, there were several organizations with tables outside the theater. Among the groups were HopeNet of Carpinteria, Recovery Road Medical Center, Casa Pacifica, the Glendon Association, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Response Network, Transitions-Mental Health Association, Acacia Counseling & Wellness, Mission Harbor Behavioral Health, Santa Barbara County Psychological Association, and Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness. Folks can also visit www.kevinhinesstory.com/resources.
Monday’s event, according to Laura Fariss, City College’s director of Student Health and Wellness, was made possible by a grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. City College received $113,000 to spend from January 2019 to July 2020 for student wellness. Ms. Fariss told the News-Press that more mental health awareness events are in the works.