Suicide Prevention in the First Person
November 2021 APNA News: Members’ Corner
Having survived a suicide attempt, Kevin Hines not only lived to see another day, but to devote himself to saving others.
In his keynote address to the APNA 35th Annual Conference, Hines described his harrowing childhood that contributed to his attempting suicide by jumping off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2000. Due in part to an intervening sea lion that buoyed his body and a passerby that alerted the Coast Guard, he survived the attempt.
While this this leap of hopelessness is a heart wrenching recollection for Hines, so are his silent cries for help that went ignored. In the days leading up to his suicide attempt, he longed for anyone to simply ask if he was okay or if he was thinking of suicide. No one asked these questions, despite his outward warning signs of suicide.
Hines message conveys what amounts to suicide prevention tools that anyone can use: Asking the questions “Are you thinking about suicide? Do you have the means?” While this may seem at first simplistic, in Kevin’s mind (and the evidence backs him up) these interventions could have been enough to stop his plans. In the most basic of terms – having someone proactively reach out to talk with him about his feelings, and specifically his plans to die by suicide, would have been a relief. “A pain shared is a pain halved,” according to the speaker.
If the comments in chat section for this virtual presentation were an indication, the audience was captivated by Kevin’s story. Without a doubt, a standing ovation and lots of hugs would have occurred had the conference been held in person. There were many mentions of tears and gratitude from those who were watching online.
Hines leaves his audience with real-world tips for living mentally well. He reminds us that habits like good nutrition, adequate quality sleep, exercise, and meditating serve to help our whole health.
APNA recognizes the urgency of suicide prevention training and offers Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Essential Competencies for Assessment and Management of Individuals at Risk for Suicide and other resources plus training events that are scheduled regularly.