The Sea Lion & The Guy Who Survived Jumping Off The Golden Gate Bridge
A short article about the unbelievable and true story of Kevin Hines – The man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.
“I jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on Sept. 25, 2000. It was a Monday,” recalled Kevin Hines.
Kevin at the time was just 19 years at the time and he was suffering from Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
“I was hearing voices in my head saying ‘I need to die,’ they were getting louder and louder,” said Kevin. “I thought I had to go, I thought I was my family’s greatest burden, I thought I was useless.”
Earlier that day Kevin’s father felt that something was wrong but Kevin convinced him otherwise.
As his father kissed him on the cheek he said ‘I love you, Kevin, be careful’.
“I remember thinking, as my father drove away, that’s the last time I’ll ever see someone I love, and of course the last time anybody I love will ever see me.“
Kevin went to his City College of San Francisco in order to drop all his classes and then proceeded to take a bus straight to the Golden Gate Bridge.
He sat in the back row, incapable of hiding his pain any longer and he started to cry openly.
“I actually had a pact with myself, this is something that many suicidal people do. If one person says ‘Are you ok,’ ‘Is something wrong,’ or ‘Can I help you?’ I was going to tell them everything and beg them to help me,” said Kevin.
No one spoke to him.
When the bus stopped, all the other passengers got off and the driver called Kevin out “C’mon kid, you gotta go!”
Walking down the two steps of the bus felt like an eternity for Kevin.
So there he was, a 19 years old kid crying and hoping that only one person would notice his tears, approach him and ask:
Can I help you?
Is there something wrong?
Are you okay?
After forty minutes of walking back and forth, a woman approached him:
“Blond curly hair, giant sunglasses that didn’t fit her face, and a smile. And I thought, she smiled at me, she’s going to ask me if I’m ok. I don’t have to die today. I’m 19, and I don’t have to die,” said Kevin. “That’s when she pulled out a camera and said ‘Will you take my picture?’ I was crushed.”
Kevin took the picture and returned the camera.
She walked away.
‘Absolutely nobody cares. Nobody.’ Kevin said to himself.
Within moments later he catapulted himself over the bridge.
He fell 220 feet – roughly the height of a 25-story building, it only took four seconds before he hit the water, but within those seconds he was hit by an avalanche of unexpected emotions:
“Instant regret, powerful, overwhelming. As I fell, all I wanted to do was reach back to the rail, but it was gone,” said Kevin. “The thoughts in those four seconds, it was ‘What have I just done? I don’t want to die. God, please save me.’ Boom.”
He hit the water at 75 miles per hour and was sucked under 70 feet.
At that kind speed water becomes as hard as concrete, he broke his lower vertebrae and his legs.
Yet, somehow he propelled himself to the surface using only his arms in order to gasp for air.
Moments before Kevin was determined to die, suddenly he found himself desperate clinging to live:
“I remember thinking very clearly, ‘Kevin you can’t die here, if you die here, no one will ever know that you didn’t want to. No one will ever know that you knew you made a mistake.’ And I broke the surface.'”
With all his fractures, his asthma and his unsuitable clothes Kevin was still in danger of drowning:
“I couldn’t breathe, and I kept going down,” said Kevin. “Every time I went down, I’d go down further, and then I’d have to swim back up, spit out salt water, go back down, spit out saltwater, go back down… I couldn’t even yell. I tried to scream, my lungs were impacted. I couldn’t do it.”
Suddenly Kevin got some unexpected company:
“Something began circling beneath me, and I mean something very large, very slimy and very alive. And I’m freaking out, and I’m thinking ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I didn’t die jumping off that stupid bridge, and a shark is going to eat me?’
A man who saw Kevin jump of the bridge saw what it was:
It wasn’t a shark, it was a Sea lion.
And it didn’t bite him, it got underneath him and nudged him to the surface every time he submerged into the water.
Saving his life over and over again.
Within 12 minutes, a Coast Guard Team pulled Kevin out of the water.
For much of the time since that day 18 years ago, Kevin Hines inspired millions of people to get help. He even fought to get a safety net constructed under the bridge to deter people from jumping.
Moral of the story:
Ever heard the saying ‘Just trust your gut?’ I believe there isn’t a lick of wisdom in this aphorism.
If I’ve learned anything in my time struggling with depression it is that for me personally, a healthy dose of distrust for my own thoughts and beliefs is a necessity.
Kevin’s voices whispered to him over and over again that his agony will never stop, that nobody will ever care for him.
Those voices were wrong.
They were lying.
It’s important that you become aware of your different modes of being in order to empower yourself enough to consciously decide what voices inside of you, you are going to listen to and what voices you are going to ignore.
So the next time you hear a whisper in your brain telling you that you are a piece of crap immediately identify the mode you are in and remind yourself that this voice is not in charge over your behavior, you are the person who is running things here and you are here to stay because you are a miracle waiting to happen.
Psychology exercises for you
Call to Action
Write a Letter to Yourself
Grab a piece of paper and go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed.
I would like to conduct a somewhat disturbing thought experiment with you:
Imagine that by a weird twist of fate you would find yourself in the shoes of Kevin Hines.
You are playing with the thought of ending yourself.
What would stop you from making the biggest mistake of your life?
Write a letter to yourself where you identify and remind yourself that your life has meaning under all circumstances.
Answering the following questions will help you:
- Who is important to you?
- To whom are you important?
- What successes, adventures or challenges could you no longer have?
- What pleasant experiences could you no longer enjoy?
- Who could you no longer become?
- What skills could you no longer develop?
- What books, art, music or other creative projects would never see the light of the world because of your premature end?
- Who could you no longer help?
- What problems could you no longer solve?
- Which unstarted good deeds would the world miss out on?
The purpose of those questions is not to promote any suicidal thoughts, but to identify what it is that gives your life your meaning.
As a person who struggled with depression and suicidal voices for the majority of his life, it was never unclear to me why some people fall into despair.
Being a human being is incredibly hard and full of horsecrap, and I believe that in our hearts we all know that to be true.
What always confused me was why there were so many people who transcended their pain and lived a fulfilled life.
It seems to me that people who prevail in spite of their obvious victimhood, are people who successfully architected a life around them that is so rich in meaning that it justifies their suffering.
It is your responsibility to forge a powerful alliance with yourself and say yes to life and yes to yourself.
And who knows, maybe if you become everything you can be, you discover that there is a Sea lion in you waiting to happen.
Thank you for reading,
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1–800–273–8255.