At almost 80 years old, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is one of the wonders of the world, and one of the most photographed things on the planet.
By 2020 it will be impossible to die by jumping off of it. According to a Golden Gate District press release, a stainless steel net, will be installed about 20 feet down from the main Bridge roadway, extending 20 feet out, with a slight raise on the outer edge will deter suicide attempts and catch those determined to try.
Beginning on the east side, the net will be installed along both sides of the Bridge, running 1.7 miles in each direction. It will be constructed to have minimal visual impact, with 90% transparency.
This super safety net costs $76 million dollars.
According to Kevin Hines, it is worth every penny. Kevin, like over 2000 others, tried to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
He, like 35 others, failed.
On Wednesday, thanks to the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation I got meet him and hear his story firsthand. Kevin is holding Cameron’s SpeakUp5k race shirt. (2014 edition). Cameron’s cousin, Kathleen (my daughter) is on his left.
Kevin had a rough start. He was born to parents addicted to hard drugs. As a toddler, he was adopted by people he considers his parents and raised in a family with love but not without problems. His parents divorced, a beloved teacher committed suicide, and in his teens he succumbed to bipolar disorder with paranoia and auditory and visual hallucinations. He was sick. He needed help. He felt he had no hope.
Sixteen years ago this Sunday, Kevin methodically and purposefully made his way to the bridge hoping for a sign not to jump. He didn’t get it. However, he says he experienced instantaneous regret the minute his hands hit the rail. But it was too late to pull is body weight back. It took 4 seconds to break the surface of the water at which time he broke several vertebrae. The bone fragments pierce many of his internal organs. He used his arms to get to surface. It took much more than 4 seconds to break the surface of the water from the other direction. And he has severe asthma.
He now works as a mental-health advocate, traveling the world to share his story in the hopes of preventing suicide. His first book, Cracked, Not Broken, a memoir of his life before and after his suicide attempt, was released in 2013.
Kevin’s father, Patrick Hines now sits on the advisory board for The Bridge Rail Foundation, which works to stop suicides on the bridge. That group is largely responsible for advocating and raising the $76 million dollars for the life-saving net.
The first time Kevin spoke publicly about his life after the suicide attempt was to a group of 7th and 8th graders at his alma mater.
This is the focus of programming like Minding Your Mind provided free of charge to area high schools by the CKG Foundation. These are school based workshops and presentations to give teens real tools and resources to help with anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. And to end the stigma associated with these challenges.
Kevin is so stoked about the work of CKG, he had to pick up Cameron’s shirt.
He says he will come run the SpeakUp5k next year and you should too.
We welcome you with open arms, Kevin Hines.