On the morning of September 25, 2000, when Kevin Hines regarded out from the Golden Gate Bridge, it has to have been a brilliant sight. The solar bouncing off the coastline of Marin County to the left and backlighting the coast of San Francisco to the proper, with Alcatraz straight ahead. There were probable boats of different kinds and sizes inside the glittering water and an occasional sea lion breaking the floor.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the international’s most exceptional, an American landmark. Despite that — or possibly because of it — it has also been one of the maximum infamous places in the world for people to die via suicide. It changed into in this stunning bridge on that best day that 19-yr-old Kevin determined to leap.
I am advised the 220-foot fall takes just a few seconds but likely feels plenty longer. By the time you hit the water, having elevated to about eighty miles in step with hour, the surface of the water features extra like concrete and does similar harm to the frame. Spinal vertebrae and the thoracic rib cage snap like twigs and then rip via the organs in the abdomen and chest. Arteries and veins tear open, and anyone hollow space fills with blood. The ache is searing, and as you plunge into the frigid water, you are in all likelihood to drown, if you are even nonetheless alive.
As quickly as Kevin’s palms left the 4-foot-excessive railing of the Golden Gate Bridge, he felt “immediate remorse.” He tried to maneuver his body in order that he may want to land feet-first, knowing that would be his handiest danger of survival. Somehow, miraculously even, it worked.
When I met Kevin some years after his soar, I was there to file one in all my first memories for CNN. The headline became easy: Man jumps from Golden Gate Bridge and survives. As I quickly learned in my profession as a journalist, though, the real memories — those that depart a mark — are typically extra nuanced and take time to attract out. They require masses of staying power, little speaker, typically listening.
I could see the jagged edges that still stuffed Kevin’s thoughts much like the titanium cages stuffed his backbone. Within mins, I knew that Kevin’s deeper untold story wasn’t just about survival, it turned into about empathy, subject and our fundamental human obligations to one another.
That responsibility is valuable to Kevin’s decision to take his lifestyles that day. He walked from his home to the bus forestall, rode to the Golden Gate Bridge after which walked to the middle of it. What no one knew changed into that he had made a silent percent with himself: If anybody supplied him a kind word or “pleasant eyes” as he made his manner to the bridge, he wouldn’t soar. He just wanted to peer one act of compassion in a town full of human beings to persuade this glaringly stricken 19-12 months-vintage child that he must stay. But on that day, no person rose to the occasion.
That a part of the story still tears at him and at times cripples him. When Kevin quietly, almost whispering, informed me this info even as we stood on the bridge in 2003, I felt a pit in my belly and stinging inside the lower back of my eyes. Not one man or woman. I wished I had acknowledged Kevin lower back then.
When Kevin and I once more walked onto the Golden Gate Bridge ultimate month, 16 years after we met, I saw a very extraordinary individual. When I took him to the vicinity wherein he jumped and asked him about it, he paused and said, “This is the place wherein I lived.” I cherished that. And during the last sixteen years, Kevin has brought that rebirthed existence to the very issue that almost stole it. Traveling everywhere in the global, Kevin has been on a mission to eradicate suicide, which has extended 33% within the United States during the last twenty years.
Through his public speaking, storytelling, and movies, Kevin is now regularly displaying the compassion, type words and “friendly eyes” that no one had given him when he wanted it the most. He won’t concede this factor, but Kevin has probably stored hundreds of lives alongside the way. And he modified me as properly.
A few years ago, I released the Just Say Hello marketing campaign with Oprah Winfrey.
The reality is, if you see a person drop from cardiac arrest, you probably have some idea of what to do: call 911, begin chest compressions. If we see someone who’s without a doubt within the throes of an intellectual fitness crisis, however, too regularly our reaction is to do not anything and maybe even turn away.
Let’s change that. Together. All people. A kind word, pleasant eyes. Just say “hiya.” You might even shop an existence, someone like Kevin Hines.