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Speaker to discuss suicide prevention, mental wellness

Kevin Hines’ mantra is living mentally well.

“It’s not easy with this illness,” he said. “I can’t do it every day. I can’t do it all day. But I can do this routine. I can follow this path. I can at least try.”

Hines will talk about his attempted suicide in the fall of 2000 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and his journey the last 13 years speaking about mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

“Living Mentally Well with Kevin Hines,” a free community presentation, will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at Waupaca High School.

The presentation is being sponsored by the Waupaca County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and this week is National Suicide Prevention Month.

The Anthony Family Foundation is providing funds for the cost of the Sept. 22 presentation.

A limited supply of Hines’ book, “Cracked, Not Broken” will be available at the event at a cost of $20.

Hines was 19 when he attempted suicide.

Two years earlier, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“I was born to two mentally ill and drug using parents,” he said in a telephone interview with the Waupaca County Post. “They had no way of actually taking care of me and my brother. They would leave us unattended to get drugs. The police took us and put us in foster care.”

Both he and his brother got bronchitis. His brother died.

“I was adopted and given this beautiful life – this new mom and dad, this family. I had it all,” Hines said. “At 17 1/2, I had my first mental health breakdown.”

After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Hines learned what he needed to do but said he did not listen to his doctors or parents.

“I went out on the weekends and binge drank until I blacked out,” he said. “I spiraled downward. In September of 2000, it got so bad. I felt I was useless, that I was a burden to everyone who loved me. I believed everyone hated me. That was when I made the plan to end my life.”

Hines is one of 33 Golden Gate Bridge survivors.

During his recovery, he met a Franciscan friar, who talked and prayed with him every day.

“At the end of the prayer, he would say, ‘When you get better, you have to talk about this,’” Hines recalled.

The first time Hines did so was on Good Friday in 2001, when he talked to 120 students.

Hines, who lives in San Franciso with his wife, says he is doing great today but still struggles.

“It’s a matter of how I look at it,” he said. “If you or a loved one are contemplating ending your life as you read this or hear this, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If you are a veteran or active military, press 1 as soon as they answer.”

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