PUYALLUP, Wash. - Hundreds of students at Puyallup High School gathered in the gym Wednesday to hear from a man who survived a suicide attempt.
Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000, after struggling with mental illness for years.
He fell 200 feet. Hines told students Wednesday afternoon he was sorry he had jumped, the minute he let go of the railing. When he hit the water he broke his back and his legs, but he was alive. He fought his way to the surface and was determined to survive.
Now Hines is using his incredible story of survival and second chances to encourage students to live.
"I wish I knew back then, what I know today that my thoughts do not have to become my actions," said Hines. He even had students repeat the phrase with him " My thougths do not have to become my actions."
The Puyallup Police Department teamed up with the Puyallup School District to bring Hines to the community to share his story.
"The need is real and it isn't going to get better by ignoring it," said Tim Yeomans, the Superintendent of the Puyallup School District. "There is a school of thought that if we don't talk about it it will go away. We've come to the conclusion in our community dealing on this head-on, with lots of partners-- that we hope we can make an impact and give kids a message of hope."
In 2018, the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey showed - 27 percent of 10th graders in Pierce County said they considered attempting suicide in the past year, 22 percent said they made a plan, and 13 percent said they attempted suicide.
The Pierce County Health Department says 10 children died from suicide in 2015, 11 in 2016, and 9 in 2017. Those children were between 10 and 19 years-old.
"One life lost is too many. So there's that hope and recovery aspect but to also know you're not alone. There are bad days but there are also good days," said Elizabeth Allen, the Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.
Allen worked to coordinate mental health professionals to attend the talk to be ready to help students.
“Today three kids came up and said the speech saved their life, three different kids, three different lives, three different stories,” said Hines. “Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.”
Hines will share his story with all high school students in the Puyallup School District. On Wednesday night at 7pm he is speaking to the community at the Washington State Fair Grounds.
Click here for a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Click here to view view Kevin Hines' YouTube channel.
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