Category Archives: mental illness

Once he let go of bridge rail, he regretted it

kevin hines suicide christianBy Hannah Hughes —

Wrenched by depression, John Kevin Hines, 19, followed through on his plans to plunge from the Golden Gate Bridge to snuff out his life.

“In the millisecond after my hands left the rail, I said to myself, ‘What have I just done? I don’t want to die. God, please save me!’” he remembers. “I felt instant regret for my actions.”

Unlike 57 other bodies fished out by a Coast Guard crew in recent years, Kevin survived.

After falling 25 stories in four seconds, he broke the frigid San Francisco Bay waters in the perfect feat first, the optimal position to cheat death. Only some vertebrae were shattered. An eyewitness phoned the Coast Guard, who rescued him, bobbing in the water, minutes later.

kevin hines golden gate bridge suicide attempt

Kevin, with his father, today

For Kevin, the makings of bipolar disorder started early. Born to poor, troubled parents, Kevin was left abandoned in a flophouse as a baby and taken by Child Protective Services, according to SFGate news

When his parents got their act together, he returned home at nine months. His father, Pat, started work as a banker and thrived. His mother adopted two other kids, and they had a home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco. Everything was turning ideal.

Then at age 10, Kevin experience an epileptic seizure and was prescribed Tegretol.

Overcoming these early difficulties, Kevin progresssed through his education and got into acting and athletics. Despite having asthma, he played on Riordan High School’s wrestling team and its football team.

At age 16, his parents initiated a divorce.

Since Kevin hadn’t experienced a seizure in so many years, he was taken off Tegretol, which no one knew at the time had a secondary benefit of suppressing the violent mood swings typical of bipolar disorder.

13274916_web1_L1-Julcol-Survived-180831After going off the meds, immediately “Kevin went down Alice’s hole,” Pat recalls.

He experienced a breakdown on stage during a school play. He fought with his mom and moved in with dad only to butt heads. He was irritable and spiraled cyclically in despair, usually bottoming out on Thursdays and Fridays.

When his drama teacher commited suicide, he was deeply affected, marked by the memory of the harrowing event.

He was struggling emotionally. But Kevin was in denial about his own need to seek help. He shored up his facade reminding himself of his triumphs in sports.

Other people were failures, needy, unstable — not him, he kept saying to himself.

“I was so much denial and that denial ruled the day until I crashed hard,” he says in a YouTube video.

12347833_10153769129882008_3364030419052064986_nOn Sept. 22, 2000, his girlfriend broke up with him.

That weekend, he experienced hallucinations and heard voices.

“I don’t want to be here anymore,” he told his dad.

“You have an obligation to be here,” Pat responded. “We love you.”

Despite the exchange of words, his dad didn’t really know the full extent of Kevin’s inner anguish. And Kevin didn’t really feel loved.

“I thought I was my family’s burden,” he explains.

After six attempts at writing a suicide note, he left the seventh version in his room.

“I sat at my desk and I penned that note mom: Dad,brother, sister, girlfriend, best friend, love you but I gotta go,” he says.

On Sunday morning Sept 24, he went to Walgreens of a “breakfast” of skittles and starburst. Then Kevin boarded a bus bound for the iconic bridge that links San Francisco with the northern peninsula that’s the inlet to the San Francisco Bay.

It is a postcard picturesque place — and a notorious choice for suicide.

As the bus drove, he mulled his determination. There were conflicting emotions. He actually felt relief that all the pain would be over. The voices kept telling him: “You must die! You can’t go back! You are a burden to those who love you!”

When he got off the Golden Gate Bridge, he was crying.

If anyone stopped to ask him what was wrong, he thought, he wouldn’t jump. He walked down the bridge. Joggers passed without apparently noticing the tears on his face. A German tourist came up to him. He thought this was his chance. But no, she ignored his tears and only asked for him to take her picture.

Police officers on a bike, whose job it is to stop suicide attempts, also passed by him and ignored him.

So he jumped.

He plummeted the 200 feet. The voices telling him he had to die stopped talking, and his rationale returned. He cried out to God, as reported by Lifezette.

Kevin broke the surface of the water feet first. This gave him the best chance to survive. The impact shattered vertebrae and very nearly severed his spinal cord completely. But it didn’t kill him.

The momentum of the fall carried him into the depths of the bay. As he speed wore off with the friction and pressure of the waters, he slowed, stopped and began to rise. A survival instinct took over and he struggled to swim to the surface, through which he popped shortly.

The felt excruciating pain in his back. He tried to tread water, but he began to sink.

He felt something underneath him seem to push him again. He thought it was some sea creature, maybe even a shark or a sea lion.

He heard a boat motor and seconds later hands were pulling him out before he went into shock from hypothermia.

The Coast Guard crew put a neck brace on him. One member leaned over him and addressed him.

“Kid, do you know how many people we pull out of this water who are already gone?” he recalls on a Power 106 YouTube video. “This unit has pulled out 57 dead bodies out of this water — and one live one.”

At the hospital, Kevin’s dad was the first to arrive.

“I looked up at my dad, and I said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry,’” he says. “And he looked at me and said with great conviction, ‘No, Kevin, I’M sorry.’ And waterfalls flew from his eyes. He put his hand on my forehead and said words I have never forgotten: ‘Kevin, you are going to be ok, I promise.’”

His recovery from suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder has not been seamless. Kevin has been admitted to psych wards seven times in the 10 years after his suicide attempt. The first three admittances were against his will.

It eventually became beneficial for Kevin to acknowledge his struggles as mental illness and to attack it with the help of medical professionals as a sickness. God has helped him make it through.

“Every night that I spent in psych wards — and I’ve been an inpatient seven times for suicidal crisis — I prayed,” Kevin says. “Every night I spent in a halfway home for the mentally ill, I have prayed. I have prayed through dangerous and scary situations.”

Today he is happily married and lives in Atlanta. He’s a motivational speaker and an advocate for suicide prevention.

christian school los angeles“I pray every day. I feel human beings take so many little things for granted,” Kevin says. “But after what happened to me, I tend not to. I do my very best in life to not take every person I get the privilege of meeting — every place I get the honor of going to, and everything I get the grace of doing — for granted. I walk into a hotel, for example, and I’m appreciative of the people who came before me who made that hotel. I appreciate the people who set up the coffee machine.”

Hannah Hughes is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

Who knew Sheila Walsh suffered mental illness

12_SheilaWalshUnder the semblance of a successful Christian music career, Scottish-born New Wave singer Sheila Walsh hid a rumbling volcano of mental illness that started when her father suffered a brain aneurysm and lashed out at the 5-year-old girl.

The volcano finally erupted in 1992 when she checked herself into a mental institution to come to grips with the rejection, depression and suicidal inclinations. Her recovery — and the help of Jesus — are the subject of her book Honestly.

“I was very much a daddy’s girl. I thought my father was the most amazing man on earth,” Sheila recounts. The tenderness and warmth ended brusquely with an aneurysm he suffered one night. After he returned from the hospital a few weeks later, he was paralyzed on the left side of his body and could only make grunting, animal-like noises.

“Sometimes during acute brain injury, the person hits out instinctively at the one person they believe will love them,” Sheila says. “But you don’t understand that when you’re five years old.

1539097700001_5852439046001_5850381258001-vs“The only one my father would take his anger out on was me,” she adds. “He would spit in my face or pull lumps of my hair out. As a child I thought, ‘What am I doing wrong?’”

One night, dad approached Sheila from behind and raised his cane to smash it down on her skull. If not for the growling of her little dog Heidy, he might have achieved his twisted intent.

“I don’t know whether I pulled it or pushed, but he fell and hit the ground hard,” she remembers. “He lay there like an animal just roaring.”

Four men were needed to carry him to the nearest asylum in Ayr, Scotland.

He escaped the asylum, dragged himself to the river, where he entangled himself in the salmon nets to drown. Search and rescue crews found him dead the next morning. He had committed suicide.

Sheila’s mother arrived home dressed in black. She took down every photo of dad from the walls and stowed them in a suitcase under her bed.

“We never talked about him again,” she says.

“All I knew is that I had done something to make my father hate me, or he had seen something in me that he despised,” she adds.

Sheila Walsh husband and sonNeighbors would try to encourage her: “Sheila, you’re just like your dad.” They meant mannerisms or singing voice, but Sheila feared they meant she was mentally ill like him.

“What I heard was: ‘There’s a crack in your soul like your father, and one of these days, no matter how fast you run, it’s going to catch up with you,’” she says. “I spent the next many, many years trying to make sure that whatever it was my father saw, no one else would ever see.”

She finished studies in theology at the London Bible College (now called London School of Theology) in 1979. She studied music at the London Academy of Operatic Art. She also worked as an evangelist for Youth for Christ in Britain and sang in a group called Oasis.

In 1981, she released a solo album of New Wave music with Christian lyrics entitled Future Eyes. She toured the United States opening for Phil Keaggy. In 1992, Pat Robertson made her co-host on the 700 Club.

“I found the perfect hiding place: Christian ministry,” she says. “Outwardly it looked like God had really put his hand of favor on my life. But inside I was still the same scared little girl. It felt as if I was on the edge of this volcano and this distant rumble was getting louder and louder every day, and I didn’t know what to do.”

She stayed busy and constantly filled her world with music and noise.

One day while interviewing a guest on the 700 Club on live T.V., the guest asked her how she was doing. “I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t get the chance to pull my guard up,” she says. “And that day I did what I vowed I would never do. I cried on live T.V.”

She went away from work that day feeling naked before the world. The ghosts from the past had finally caught up with her, and she didn’t know how to deal with them. She went to the coast and walked out into the water, with every intention of drowning herself like her father.

What held her back was the thought of her mother receiving the phone call that her daughter had repeated the curse of inheritance.

She checked into a psych hospital. “I felt I had gone to hell,” she says. She was in a simple room with a chair, and personnel checked on her every 15 minutes.

A man came in at 3:00 and gave her a stuffed animal, a lamb.

“As he was leaving, he turned and said, ‘Sheila, the Shepherd knows where to find you,’” she remembers. Sheila was treated for a month and never saw that man again. Read the rest of Sheila Walsh mental health and suicide.