Kevin Hines brings message of hope, empathy, and resiliency.

Author, storyteller and documentary filmmaker, Kevin Hines shared his story of hope and celebration of life to several different community audiences. On Monday, April 8, more than 250 people attend his free public presentation in the DBHS Memorial Auditorium. On Tuesday, April 9, Kevin spoke to students in grades 7-12 in the Dawson-Boyd and Lac qui Parle School districts and healthcare staff from Johnson Memorial Health Services, Madison Healthcare Services, and Appleton Area Health Services.

In 2000, two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (at 19 years of age), Kevin attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall, and the only one to regain full physical mobility.

Kevin’s incredible story of survival is both heartbreaking and inspirational. He spoke on his instant regret after jumping to the many factors contributed to his miraculous survival, including a sea lion which kept him afloat until the Coast Guard arrived.

In the U.S., suicide rates have increased by 25% since 1999. Currently every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide. One in four adults will have some form of mental illness in their lifetime. However, most people live with symptoms for ten years before seeking treatment, primarily due to the stigma. When Kevin attempted suicide, he was no longer taking his bi-polar medication which he attributes to mental health stigma.

Brain health is equally important as physical health, which is why Kevin has become a strong brain/mental health advocate. His powerful message includes that we all have to do our part to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment. In fact, he shared that several people had the opportunity to ask if he was OK that day that he jumped off the bridge, yet no one even paused. He encouraged the audiences to become mental health advocates with him and help stop the stigma that prevents people from seeking needed mental healthcare.

Kevin’s story is a remarkable testament to the strength of the human spirit and an excellent reminder for us to love the life we have. Kevin’s public presentation at the DBHS Memorial Auditorium was sponsored by Johnson Memorial Health Services, Dawson-Boyd School District, and the LqP Children’s Mental Health Collaborative. His presentations to the schools and healthcare staffs were made possible through a grant from the Lac qui Parle Health Network.

For more information on Kevin Hines or to access several mental health resources for adults and children visit his website at www.kevinhinestory.com.