TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The City of Twin Falls held the Hope Helps Heal event at O'Leary Middle School to discuss mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
For the presentation, the city got a world-renown suicide prevention speaker, Kevin Hines, who shared his story of survival from a suicide attempt.
“The Lord wasn’t done with him," said Mandi Thompson, the assistant to the city manager for Twin Falls. "He is still here, and he’s sharing his message because he has work still to do, and he has a message to share with people who are struggling, people who have loved ones that are struggling, and just general awareness.”
Kevin Hines attempted to kill himself at 19 years old by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in September 2000. He is one of only 34 survivors. After hearing he was going to be in Burley for a presentation, local officials raced to see if he would make a stop in Twin Falls.
“We occasionally have the opportunity to bring in some pretty well-known speakers, some experts in the area of behavioral healthcare, said Scott Rasmussen, the regional manager for the Idaho Department of Health Welfare's Behavioral Health Division. "But I don’t know that we advertise well beyond the provider network, and so to get this out to the community and allow the community the opportunity to come, it’s just tremendous.”
After officials reached out, Hines was more than willing to stop by.
“None of us are promised tomorrow. I know that more than most, and being able to come here to Twin Falls is today’s greatest gift,” said Hines.
After his stay in the hospital for his physical injuries, he went to a psychiatric hospital where the Chaplain encouraged him to tell his story. Hines said he had no plans of sharing his experience with anyone apart from family and friends.
Only just months after his attempt, he attended a church service with his father, following the service, the priest approached Hines asking him to speak to their seventh and eighth-grade classes.
Although he did not know what he would say and was unsure, his father pushed him forward and promised the priest he would. Kevin went on to speak in front of 120 kids, six of whom were actively suicidal, and his story saved their lives.
Sharing his story
For the past 20 years, Hines has gone on to share his story with the world, reaching millions of people with his message that suicide is not the answer.
“I go out with my wife, and we tackle the day, and we try to just reach out to people who are in mental pain to keep them here, so they can be here tomorrow and every day after that," said Hines. "I’m so grateful that I get to exist PERIOD, I almost didn't exist, yet here I stand before you.”
Hines said it is still a challenge to share his story, but his continued motivation stems from the people that reach out on daily basis.
“I keep doing this because of the countless individuals, the hundreds of thousands of people that have written to me and said that this story saved and changed their life," said Hines. "It’s been 21 years, these messages, I hold dear, I save them all, I appreciate them so much.”
Although he has countless people reach out giving thanks and appreciation for having him save their lives, he does not take any credit.
“I go out, I say words that resonate with individuals," said Hines. "They go home. They do the work. They save and change their life. They just give me credit. They need to give themselves the credit. They’re putting in the effort to do the hard work for their mental well-being, and it’s amazing.”
For those who were in the audience to hear Hine's words, it left a lasting impact on how people need to address this issue.
“I think as a community, once we become more aware, then that just provides more resources for these kids and others who are struggling, and we can be there for them to help them,” said Twin Falls Resident and parent, Jeffrie Mason.
For anyone who is struggling, Kevin wants people to remember these four words for the future.
"I. Need. Help. Now," said Hines. "I always tell people, maybe it’s not the first, second, or third person that's going to get your back when you say that. But by the sheer probability of you asking as many people as you possibly can, someone will be willing to empathize with your pain and get you to a safe place.”
If you or someone you know needs help, the crisis text line is available by texting CNQR at 741741. There is also the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline which can be reached at 800-273-8255.