Suicide survivor: Don’t silence pain

A man who tried to take his life says he wishes he knew on the rail that his thoughts didn’t have to become his actions.

Kevin Hines, author of “Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt,” spoke at Tiffin University’s Marion Center on Thursday evening for Tiffin-Seneca Public Library’s Foundation Series.

Hines said he lives with brain pain every day. He said he learned hope existed, and light was there.

“I just hadn’t walked far enough to reach it,” he said.

Hines had tried to take his life by jumping off theGolden Gate Bridge in 2000, and a sea lion — which kept him afloat until Coast Guard arrived — was one of many factors contributing to his miraculous survival, according to his website.

Hines is one of 39 people to survive the fall from the bridge, and he said five of the 39 get the privilege to stand, walk and run. He said he had back pain Thursday.

“I appreciate the pain today. I hold gratitude for the pain today,” he said.

Hines said Thursday was not about the way or the day people died. It was about how they lived before they ever got sick in the first place, he said.

“Today is about the beauty that they were,” he said.

The only way to properly grieve suicide, Hines said, is together, without blame and with no guilt. He encouraged people to choose to honor their memory, hold it dear and celebrate the light that existed when they were alive.

“When you celebrate their lives on their birthday, you’re only allowed to speak upon the good times,” he said.

Hines explained his childhood experiences leading up to his suicide attempt.

He said he and his brother were born into squalor, and a hotel is where his life began. Police came in with child protective services and swooped them up.

Hines said his gut to brain health was shattered before 9 months of age.

from the very beginning,” he said.

Hines had voices in his head in fourth grade.

He reflected on a limerick he wrote in eighth grade: “He is ancient, yet ageless. He is ticking, yet timeless. He runs, not hunted. He chases. He is a man of many faces. He is the darkness. I am the light. I may be cracked, but I will never be broken.”

Hines and his brother ended up in foster care, and his brother died. Hines said a hard time found him at 17 1\2 years of age, when the voices would come back at full force.

“I knew exactly what they were saying. … They wanted me dead,” he said.

Hines was surrounded by a sea of people who love him.

“I believed I was worthless. I felt I had no value. … My family loved me. My friends cared for me,” he said.

Hines said pain is valid.

“Never again silence your pain,” he said. “A pain shared is a pain halved.”

Hundreds of people attended Hines’ program, and he thanked them for packing the room.

Trinity Lescallett, adult services manager for Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, said she was glad people were fighting for seats.

“This is such a fabulous sight. … This is absolutely wonderful,” she said.

A self-care fair is planned for 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the library.

Adult mental health first aid training is scheduled for 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 28 in the library’s Frost Kalnow Room.

The course is to teach people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders and give them skills to reach out and provide support.

It is limited to 25 people, and registration is required by calling (419) 447-3751, according to the library.