Semikolon Blog Logo
Kevin Hines Zeichnung Suizidprävention

Kevin Hines – Dedicated To Suicide Prevention

How to live after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge

After Kevin Hines survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge 22 years ago, he dedicated his life to suicide prevention. Today, he is one of the best-known mental health activists, publicly sharing his story and encouraging people to seek help in acute mental health crises.


The 25 September 2020

Sixty metres. That is the height of the Golden Gate Bridge at the point from which Kevin Hines jumped when he tried to take his own life on 25 September 2000. At that time, he was 19 years old. He survived the fall. Today, twenty-two years later, he is one of the best-known activists working for suicide prevention.

"If even a single pedestrian on the way to the bridge railing asked me how I was, I wouldn't jump."

Kevin Hines

But the only person who had approached him had been a tourist who asked him to take her picture. She did not ask how he was doing. And no one else asked either – Hines jumped. Already in the fall, he regretted it, he later states.

“Never in my life have I been in such pain,” Hines says about hitting the water in the Buzzfeed YouTube video “I Jumped Off The Golden Gate Bridge”, which has been viewed over 8.5 million times.

What happened after he hit the water’s surface seems like a miracle: a sea lion, whom Kevin Hines has subsequently named “Herbert”, kept him afloat until help arrived. With several broken vertebrae, Hines was hospitalised.

A few months later, Kevin Hines spoke publicly for the first time about his suicide attempt in front of 120 children and young people. The hospital pastor had persuaded him to do so, but at first he had been sceptical. After the talk, six of the audience members turned to him and told of their own suicidal thoughts. Since that first talk, many more have followed. “Many underestimate the impact a few words can have,” Hines said. A few words, that’s what Hines had wanted for himself at the time. That is precisely why he has made it a habit to offer people talks when he has the feeling that they are not doing well. “Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always.” – that is Hines’ mantra today. With his work, Hines shows others affected by suicidal thoughts that it is possible to appreciate life. Even if you wanted to end it.

Bipolar Disorder - What Is It?

Although Kevin Hines is now a public mental health activist and has gained international prominence, he also has to take care of his own mental health in addition to raising awareness – every day, as he tells it

Kevin Hines has bipolar disorder. People affected by bipolar disorder suffer from strong fluctuating emotions. These vary from periods of extreme happiness to recurrent depressive phases that often trigger suicidal thoughts. Bipolar disorder often lasts for a long time – but it can be treated with therapy and medication and the severity of the mood swings can be mitigated. How often the phases change depends on the individual. A phase can last three months or change several times a week.

Symptoms of a manic phase / of hypomania are:

  • increased energy and activity
  • persistent mild elevation of mood
  • marked feelings of well-being and both physical and mental efficiency
  • Increased sociability, talkativeness, sexual energy
  • decreased need for sleep
  • Irritability, conceit, and boorish behaviour
  • In the case of mania, hallucinations and delusions may occur

Symptoms of recurrent depression are:

  • lowering of mood
  • reduction of energy
  • decrease in activity
  • Capacity for enjoyment, interest, and concentration is reduced
  • disturbed sleep
  • diminished appetite
  • reduced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • loss of libido

The onset of the alternating episodes is often related to stressful events in the life of the person affected. This was also the case with Kevin Hines. He tells of his early childhood with drug-addicted parents. Even though he was later placed in an adoptive family, the childhood traumas still mark him, he says.

The suicidal thoughts came back after the jump from the Golden Gate Bridge – but he found a different way to deal with them. Along with medication, breathing techniques, a balanced diet and meditation, he has now found his greatest tool. The four words:

"I need help. Now.”

Kevin Hines

A few times he had already admitted himself to the psychiatry with these words or said them to airport staff during a panic attack. Saying that one needs help can require a lot from the person concerned, perhaps even scare them. Hines’ experience is that those four words helped him. Many institutions are prepared for what happens when someone asks for help.

In every hospital, it is possible to call for help in case of an acute mental crisis, as Kevin Hines says. If someone falls and twists their arm, that person will be helped in a hospital emergency room. The same applies to mental illness, suicidal thoughts and crises. It does not mean that affected persons are immediately admitted to a psychiatric ward. Usually, they are first offered a consultation with a doctor.

You can find useful addresses here.

Kevin Hine's Activism

Kevin Hines is also a direct advocate for suicide prevention precautions at his defining site, the Golden Gate Bridge. More than 1800 people have died from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge since it opened in 1937. The bridge’s Wikipedia article even has a separate section on suicide. Hines says he feels a connection with the people who died as a result of the jump. He is one of only thirty-six people who survived the fall. That’s less than one per cent.

Together with the Bridge Rail Foundation and other supporters, he finally managed to get a 200-million-euro safety net installed around the bridge. Not only will it catch jumpers, but it will also have a preventive deterrent effect. In 2023, the net is to be uncovered. When Hines saw parts of the net for the first time, he said: “This is one of the most special days of my life”. In addition, telephones have been placed on the bridge from which people in need can seek contact.

But Hines is not only active on the Golden Gate Bridge. For example, he talks to veterans who are struggling with their lives due to traumatic experiences. Later, he sat on the board of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) which aims to help other sufferers and educate them about the disease.

On his website, Hines is presented as a “survivor” and “storyteller”. His work combines both: with the speeches in which he shares his story as a survivor, he reaches people all over the world. For example, his podcast HINESIGHT “is designed to help you triumph over your greatest adversities by sharing stories of hope, healing, and recovery.”

On his YouTube channel, he posts videos of his speeches and straightforward tips for mental health patients in videos like “4 Mental Health Hacks You Need to Know.”

Key to what Hines does is the openness in which he talks about his story. Hines does not embody a classic hero who could turn everything around after a crisis. He does not hide the fact that even after his suicide attempt and stepping into the public eye, he has setbacks and deep crises in which he himself needs help. And: He calls for conversation. To listen, to ask questions and to ask for help when you need it.


If you are not feeling well or are having suicidal thoughts yourself, you can find help here: 

USA: National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. At any time there are trained counselors available to talk to in a crisis.


Germany: Telefonseelsorge, free of charge, anonymous and available around the clock: 0800 / 111 0 111.

Or here via email or chat.

In every hospital it is possible to report to the emergency room day and night. Rescue services (112) and police (110) can also be called in an emergency.

If you are worried about someone, you can also turn to the help services.



Dieser Beitrag wurde von einer ärztlichen Psychotherapeutin redigiert. 



“Psychische Erkrankungen begegnen uns häufiger als wir denken. Wir müssen hinsehen und darüber reden.”