Episode 351 | January 2, 2024

Transforming Trauma Into Triumph While Living With a Mental Illness with Kevin Hines

A Personal Note From Orion

Welcome back to another soul-nourishing episode of the Stellar Life Podcast! I’m excited to share the wisdom and resilience of a truly extraordinary individual in today’s episode.

Our guest, Kevin Hines, shares his unbelievable tale of survival and how he channels his painful past to lift millions of people from darkness. 

Kevin Hines’ story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a powerful reminder to all of us to cherish the precious gift of life. A multi-award-winning filmmaker, best-selling author, and globally recognized suicide prevention and mental health advocate, Kevin has had an extraordinary journey from darkness to light. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 19, he faced the depths of despair, which culminated in a life-altering decision to jump from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Miraculously, Kevin survived, and today, his story stands as the only evidence-based account of an individual who attempted suicide and survived the staggering 220-foot fall.

As we delve into Kevin’s remarkable journey, you’ll witness the resilience of the human spirit in the face of immense challenges. His message brings inspiration, clarity and, most importantly, hope. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the show!

In This Episode

  • [03:51] – Kevin Hines, award-winning filmmaker and mental health advocate, shares his story of survival and hope, attempting suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000, and how he has lived with regular thoughts of suicide for 23 years.
  • [12:04] – Kevin recalls personal experience with bullying and emphasizes the importance of empathy and kindness towards others.
  • [19:30] – Kevin highlights the alarming rate of suicide among children, citing media exposure as a contributing factor.
  • [27:45] – Kevin struggles with bipolar disorder, experiencing suicidal ideation, depression, mania, and panic attacks, highlighting the significance of having emotional support to navigate a mental health journey.
  • [30:57] – Kevin urges everyone to choose life, despite the pain they may be in, and to be kinder to themselves, forgiving themselves for mistakes and failures, and seeking hope, healing, and recovery through prayer or other means.
  • [39:11] – Kevin suggests that gut health issues may be caused by consuming foods filled with chemicals and pesticides, which can damage brain health at the cellular level.
  • [44:20] – Kevin offers three tips for living a stellar life.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Hey, Kevin. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you so much for having me, Orion.

Thank you. I’m glad you’re here. Please share a bit about your origin story. You have a remarkable story. You help people around the world with this story because people learn more from stories than from facts. It touches their hearts, creating a great change in the world. It’s amazing how you took this pain and created so much healing for so many people from that pain—well done.

You nailed it right on the head. Stories are 22 times more memorable than statistics, facts, or PowerPoints. When someone tells a story, whether in a podcast, on a film, in a video, in an article, in person during a presentation, or in a keynote, the audience’s neural pathways sync up with the storyteller. They feel an overwhelming empathy for what the storyteller is going through.

When they go home and struggle in their own life situations, they can often recall the story they were told, read, heard, or saw. They can connect with that story. The idea occurs to them is that “If that person can overcome it, I can, too.” It’s been an incredible journey traveling the world and sharing my story for the last 23 years. Two million people have heard me speak in person.

23 years? You look 23. You look pretty young. That’s amazing.

You can't pray away a brain disease, but you can pray for hope, healing, and recovery. Click To Tweet

Thank you very much. I’ve spoken to over two million people in person. My videos have reached over two billion people online. Hundreds of thousands of people have said this story saved their lives.

I don’t own that. I’m not a lifesaver at all. I give a message, and I’m a conduit. I give a message. People go home. They do the work. They tell their parents or their family they’re struggling. They tell their counselors or their therapists they need help. They ask for help. They get it, and they save their own lives. I was just a path to moving them forward if you will.

In the year 2000, due to bipolar depression, because of an overwhelming and unprecedented lethal emotional pain, I attempted to die with these two hands. I believed I was useless. I felt worthless, and I thought I had no value, but I was wrong. I thought I had to die by my hands, but I was wrong, and I couldn’t see it.

On September 25th of the year 2000, I did the unthinkable. I leaped off the Golden Gate Bridge to try to attempt to take my life in a way that was 99.9% fatal. And I got to live. I get to be here. I firmly believe that getting to be here is both a privilege and a gift, no matter the pain one might be in.

I’m in a lot of physical pain every day from what I did to myself, but I take responsibility for my actions.

I’m in a lot of pain. I’m in a lot of physical pain every day from what I did to myself, but I take responsibility for my actions. No pity is needed. I did that, and I have to take responsibility for it. I’m in brain pain on a regular basis because of my bipolar depression, which I fully accept, but I don’t necessarily live with those labels. I am not bipolar. I am Kevin Hines. I had 16 years of my life before that diagnosis. I’ve had so many years after that diagnosis, trying to live well, brain well. 

When I left off the Golden Gate Bridge, I was in the greatest moment of despair I’d ever experienced in my life. I thought that everyone I knew hated me and wanted me gone, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Every single member of my family, every one of my friends, would have moved heaven and earth to keep me safe from myself that day if I had simply asked for help.

The message I want to impart to people is that maybe you don’t have the same support network I have, but by the sheer probability of the number of people you say, ‘I need help now too,’ someone will be willing to answer the call. 

I have lived for 23 years with regular and chronic thoughts of suicide. Thousands upon thousands of suicidal ideations over 23 years, but I’ve never attempted again since going off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Every single time I’m suicidal, I do two things. (1) I find a mirror, any mirror, anywhere. I look into that mirror and say to myself aloud, “My thoughts do not have to become my actions. They can simply be my thoughts. They don’t have to own rules or define what I do next. Thus, I’d never have to attempt or die in the first place.”

(2) I turn to anyone willing to hear me. I said what I already told you: “I need help now.” The difference between me and someone who attempts or dies by suicide is that I don’t stop saying I need help now until someone is there for me, sits next to me in my pain, puts their arms around my shoulders and says, “I got your back, and I’m not going anywhere until I know you’re safe.” 

The sheer probability of the number of people you say, ‘I need help now,’ someone will be willing to answer the call.

Those are my tactics for staying alive; they have served me well for over two decades. I will never die by my hands, no matter how often I think about it, because every time, I will get the help I so desire and deserve.

That’s powerful. What happened to you? How did they rescue you? What happened to your body after you fell from that bridge?

When I fell from that bridge, 245–250 feet, down in the waters below at 75 miles an hour in 4 seconds, praying on the way down to God that I would live, I hit the water at 15,000 pounds of pressure. Most people die upon impact. I went down 40–50 feet. I opened my eyes, and I was drowning, and I didn’t want to. I frantically moved in any direction. I was going the wrong way. I was going down.

My eyes began to bulge. My ears began to ring. I shot for the surface. As fast as my arms would take me, it was the fastest I ever swam in my life because all I wanted to do was live. I broke the surface of the water. I bobbed up and down it and did the one thing I have had control over since kindergarten—I prayed. “God, please save me. I don’t want to die. I made a mistake.” On repeat, and he heard me.

A woman driving by in a red car saw me go over the rail at the moment of my attempt and called her friend from the Coast Guard, who happened to be manning the waters of the bridge at that moment, from her car phone. The only reason the Coast Guard boat arrived at my position in the water before I was to die and drown was because of that woman’s phone call.

In the water, before I was to drown, I was going down in the water. I couldn’t stay above water. I go down, down, down. My boots were waterlogged, my long-sleeved clothing was heavy, and I thought, “This is it. This is where I go. Nobody’s coming to save me. I’m going to die here, and I don’t want to. What have I just done? What did I do?”

That’s when something very large, slimy, and alive began circling beneath me. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I didn’t die jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and a shark is going to eat me.” It turned out it wasn’t a shark at all.

I will always and forever believe that God saved my life that day.

Sometime later, while on a TV show promoting a suicide prevention campaign, I said on the show I thought there was a shark beneath me in the water. People from all over the world wrote into this show. One man’s letter stuck out above all the rest. His name was Morgan. He was from Las Vegas, Nevada. He was on the bridge that day with his mom.

This is what he wrote to me through ABC News. “Kevin, I’m so very glad you’re alive. I was standing less than two feet away from you when you jumped. Until this day, watching this show, no one would tell me whether you lived or died. It’s haunted me until right now. By the way, Kevin, there was no shark. As you mentioned, you thought there was one on the show, but there was a sea lion. The people above looking down believe it to keep your body afloat until the coast guard boat arrives behind you.” 

This is Herbert, who saved my life. I affectionately named Herbert because it’s my favorite name besides Kevin. This creature saved my life when no human would. When no human would see my pain, this creature who didn’t know me or speak my language kept me afloat until the Coast Guard boat arrived behind me. You can call that what you want, but that’s my miracle. And I will always and forever believe that God saved my life that day.

That’s an absolute miracle. Do you think people did not see your pain when you were experiencing depression? Were you very smiley on the outside, but something was going on inside that nobody could see? How did it work in your life?

Certainly, on that day, on the bus ride to the bridge, I was breaking down. I was crying profusely. Waterfalls were flowing from my eyes. I was yelling aloud at the voices I was hearing in my head. “I don’t want to die. What did I ever do to you? Leave me alone. I’m a good person. Why do you hate me so much?” And still, people just stared at me. They said nothing. One man said, “What the hell’s wrong with that kid?” While laughing at my pain. Apathy. 

If your brain malfunctions, the rest of your body will follow suit.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and that lesson is this. If you see someone who’s actively in visual, lethal, emotional pain, and you do nothing, it’s wrong. Walk up to that individual and say, “How’s it going? How are you doing? Is there anything I could do for you? You look like you’re going through a really hard time.” You need a shoulder to cry on. You need someone to listen to what you’re going through.

We are each other’s keepers. That’s why we’re here with a soul and singular purpose on this planet: to give back to those we know, those we love, those we don’t know, and those we don’t even like. What we were not meant to do on this planet is hurt each other with our words or actions. It happens all around the world every day, as you well know from seeing the current climate of this country and the globe.

That’s crazy.

The hate that is around the world right now, the damage, the destruction, the hurt that is occurring, is monumental, it is terrifying, and it is horrific. If we could just be kinder, more compassionate, more loving, more giving, more empathetic, and less judgmental to one another, we could all survive, thrive, and give back to each other like we were meant to. We were never meant to hurt each other.

I think of all the kids in grade school, high school, college, and even adults, sometimes with their colleagues, who are bullied, hazed, and teased to destruction.

If you see someone who’s actively in visual, lethal, emotional pain, and you do nothing, it’s wrong.

What pops to mind is the Jewish students that have to lock themselves in libraries in a prestigious university, and then a hearing where you ask the president of the university, Harvard, Penn, if the genocide of Jews is considered to be evil speech. I don’t know exactly how they phrase it, but they’re like, “It depends on the context.” What context?

It’s a hate crime. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a hate crime, but it’s being ignored. I’m part Sephardic Jew. It’s devastating to see the lack of honesty and candor in what’s going on.

As I travel the world speaking, I also think that I will tell you there are two most common things I hear, especially from high school students. “I’m being bullied at school by my peers. I go home, and they’re bullying me online,” and then they’re not telling their parents. The kids who are bullying them online are saying to them that because they’re cowards, “You should just go kill yourself.” And then those kids are taking their lives.

Yeah, words matter.

Words matter. There have to be consequences for people’s actions like that. It can’t be nothing. The second thing I hear most from students in the 13 to 18-year-old range is, “I come to school to get away. I come to school because, at home, I’m being abused and neglected or both.” That’s the second most common thing I hear around the world. How has this become our norm?

It makes me so desperately sad and broken to feel that their children are being abused and neglected at home every day. Nothing I say will take away what they’re experiencing at home. My hope, wish, and prayer is that I can inspire them just to forge onward, to keep moving forward until they’re out of that household and they can find a glimmer of hope in their lives.

They know that hope is around the corner. If you haven’t reached it yet, you haven’t walked far enough to get there. Keep going. That’s a tall order for a child who goes home to abuse.

We’re here with a soul and singular purpose on this planet: to give back to those we know, those we love, those we don’t know, and those we don’t even like.

That’s horrible. Yes, that’s so sad.

It is so sad and the second most common thing I hear. It breaks my heart.

Yes. Dealing with bipolar, what is bipolar to you? What was it like when you were young? When did you discover it? How do you see it today or experience it today?

In fourth grade, after being severely bullied by the eighth graders, I was part black, and they used to call me the little red N-word every day. They used to beat me up. They used to toss me around. They used to throw me in garbage cans face first. Tell me that’s what I was.

And you didn’t tell your parents?

I didn’t. They knew I was being bullied, but they didn’t know the severity of it. After that, I developed auditory hallucinations in fourth grade. I didn’t know what they were; I just knew they hated me. I don’t remember telling my family. I may have told my mom. But they went away.

At 17½, they came back full force, and I heard them loud and clear. “You must die, you’re a horrible person, you’re worthless, I hate you.” It’s inevitable. By 19, the voices had grown so loud I couldn’t ignore them anymore. At 19, on September 25th of the year 2000, I penned a note to my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister, my best friend, and my girlfriend at the time. I told them I loved them, and I told them I was sorry. I asked for their forgiveness.

I made a choice that I was going to go to the Golden Gate Bridge to try to take my life, but it wasn’t a choice or a decision you normally make. I felt compelled by outside forces to die in my hands. I heard voices in my head, seemingly not that of my conscience, that felt like they were coming from outside of me, telling me that I had to die, that it was inescapable. I never wanted to die off the Golden Gate Bridge, and I only believed I had to. Those are two categorically different things. Wanting to do something and believing you have no choice.

What would it take for you to tell your mom and dad about what you were going through?

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

What has come out about how to approach someone with suicidal ideation, which may be silencing their pain, maybe pretending everything’s okay?

How do you know if someone is pretending to be okay and silencing their pain?

You don’t. You have to be vigilant, and you have to ask questions on a regular or semi-regular basis. “Are you thinking of killing yourself? Have you made plans to take your life? And do you have the means?”

Statistically speaking, according to the Crisis Text Line AI algorithm, which is hyper-intelligent, when you ask those three questions, they get a more truthful answer than even the questions: “Are you thinking of suicide? Are you thinking of self-harm?” Because of the taboo on the word suicide and because self-harm, by definition, is self-harm, not suicide. When you ask, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” People have a visceral reaction, saying things like, “How did you know?”

At what age do you ask something like that?

You ask that at a very young age. Right now, more seven to ten-year-old children are dying by suicide than ever before in the history of humankind.

This is horrible.

It’s horrible. A lot of it has to do with what they see in the media. They see the potential in the media, and it becomes an option. Or they’re at school or too early to be adapted to social media. I believe in positive, powerful social media that changes the world and helps people for good. My YouTube channel, youtube.com/kevinhines, has 800-plus videos designed to better your brain health.

And they’re amazing. I watched some of your videos, and they’re really good.

They’re hopeful. They’re healing. Thank you. They’re good for you. But there are far too much hateful, spiteful, rageful, horrible, degrading, deplorable, appalling media that exists in the world that children are seeing, and it’s affecting their lives. It’s affecting their brains, more importantly. They go to bed with phones by their side, looking at blue light till the wee hours of the morning, and their parents don’t know they’re not getting any sleep that night, these teenagers.

Even the most prominent social media moguls worldwide do not allow their children to be on social media. A big reason for that is, and that’s why these lawsuits are going on, they would hire psychologists to train the algorithms to be more addictive to children. It’s all on purpose.

I think that we need to be aware of these things, and parents need to be embedded in what their children are looking at and seeing and controlling that. There are apps designed to combat that and ensure that your child can only see certain things and not things they shouldn’t be seeing at a young age when their brain is not fully developed yet.

Can you suggest some of those apps?

Parents need to be embedded in what their children are looking at and seeing and controlling that.

My wife is on the board of a great program called HalfTheStory. HalfTheStory is dedicated right now every day to creating legislation that helps limit not just watch time or viewing hours but also helps people navigate how they can protect their children from certain aspects of social media. The work they’re doing is incredible. They’re being a part of saving kids’ lives.

That’s amazing. Are there any other apps that you suggest?

HalfTheStory is what I’m most familiar with. It’s the most effective and the one that all the former social media moguls are a part of because they want to change the narrative.

That’s powerful. That’s amazing.

The work they’re doing is incredible. Please, everyone, have a look at it.

How did your wife get into that?

She’s my business partner and the best thing that ever happened to me. In our work together for Susan Branson for 23 years, she was handpicked to be on their board.

Nice, and how did you guys meet?

We met in my third psych ward stay. I was a patient. She was visiting her cousin. For me, it was love at first sight. For her, not so much, but we’re 20 years together and 17 years married now.

Words matter. There have to be consequences for people’s actions.

Hold on. How did you get from meeting in those circumstances to getting married?

I’ll tell you the story. In the psych ward, I had made my way into volunteering for the psych ward I was staying in, which is highly unethical and probably illegal, but I was able to do it. I was wearing civilian clothes while every other patient was wearing hospital gowns, hospital pants, and hospital slippers with grips on the bottom.

She walked in to visit her cousin one day. She ran into me, and I was in a pink polo shirt and khaki cargo shorts with a clipboard, looking like I worked there. I was making the afternoon visiting hour announcements on the PA system. She tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned around, and I was done.

I knew she’d be the rest of my life. I just didn’t know how. I was like, “Don’t tell her that. That would be awkward.” She goes, “Excuse me, do you work here?” The whole staff of the psych ward was right there staring at me like, “What is this little jerk going to say?” I said, “As a matter of fact, miss, I’m a volunteer.” They couldn’t do anything about that because I’d done so much work for the hospital while staying there.

I said, “Madam, right this way.” I walked her to her cousin’s room. He didn’t like me too much because a few weeks prior, he had come in on a gurney. He was catatonic at the time. He couldn’t move, and he couldn’t talk due to methamphetamines and other drugs. He was using illicit drugs. He was rendered catatonic for some time.

The saddest part about his story was that every day, they’d bring him his breakfast, lunch, and dinner tray full, and they’d take it away full because he couldn’t move or talk. He couldn’t eat. He was starving, and it broke my heart. The hospital staff was not helping him because he couldn’t help himself. That was the norm.

In generosity to others, we discover the transformative power of giving. Changing someone else's life becomes the catalyst to change our own. Click To Tweet

I would sit there every day for two weeks and tell him stories to elicit a response. One day, two weeks into his stay, a month into my stay, he looks up at me and says, “Geez, man, you talk too much. Leave me alone. I know your whole life story. Cut a guy a break.” People were clapping in the background. It was great.

He’s out of his catatonia, but he doesn’t want anything to do with me now because I’m that guy who talks too much. I drove him bananas. He couldn’t respond to me, and he couldn’t stop me from talking all that much.

I dug into the hallway after seeing him walk his cousin into the room. She says to him, and I hear her in the hallway, “Your nursing staff is so nice.” Remember, I’m wearing civilian clothes. I’ve got a clipboard, a notebook, and a pen. She probably thought it was an official document. I was just drawing Leonardo the Ninja Turtle.

My goodness, that’s funny.

I heard her say, “Your nursing staff is so nice.” I hear him say, “That guy’s a nutball. That guy jumps off bridges. Don’t talk to that guy.” I ran in there and said, “Excuse me, it was one bridge. Plural, that’s ridiculous.”

She comes out and goes, “Why’d you lie to me?” I said, “Margaret, I didn’t lie to you. I’m a volunteer at this hospital, and I also live here.” He gets out of the hospital shortly after that, but before he does, she comes in one more day.

Suicide is never the answer.

I stopped her short at the door of the psych ward. I was like, “Margaret, when I get out of here, could I take you to coffee?” She looks at me and smiles, so I think I got this. She looks around at the H-shaped psych ward and says, “Oh, honey, hell no.” I was all bummed out. I was so sad, but I was persistent.

He gets out of the psych ward. I get out and go to my halfway home for the mentally ill. Eventually, I called Margaret, and she agreed to go on a date with me. I was like, “Look, it’s one date. If it goes south, you never have to see me again.”

Orion, it was a debacle. I got marinara sauce all over my shirt. I got lobster sauce all over my shirt. I squeezed a lemon that went directly into her left eye. Mascara was running down her face. I tipped a plate of boiling butter and four scalding hot boiling butter droplets. It went between her blouse and her chest and burned her. She screamed bloody murder.

The whole restaurant stopped. Everyone dropped their silverware. I’m not kidding. It was like something out of a movie. It has to be the single worst date in the history of humankind. She cancels the date when we haven’t even eaten our food and says, “Check, please.”

Keep fighting; become your own best advocate. You’ve got to be the one to change the narrative of your story.

We walked back to the apartment. She goes, “Kevin, we’re going to the roof.” I said, “Margaret, are you going to throw me off?” She said, “No, Kevin, come on.” We go to the roof, and there are two yoga mats in a box garden overlooking the Bay Bridge with a full moon and the Golden Gate Bridge tower behind us.

She says, “Lay down.” We lay down on the yoga mats. I said, “Margaret, what are we doing here?” She says, “Kevin, if all we do right now is stare at that full moon, nothing else can go wrong.” She gave me a second date, and the rest is history. She’s my best friend, heart, business partner, and the love of my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That’s amazing.

And we met at the psych ward. Come on.

That’s incredible. You said you still struggle with bipolar. How does that affect the marriage? How do you guys evolve through that?

It’s not easy. I seem fine now at this moment here talking to you, but I struggle with this disease on a regular basis. I struggle with suicidal ideation. I struggle with depression. I get manic. I get panic attacks, but she understands the diagnosis. She understands how hard I’m working to stabilize. She guides me to a better place when I’m struggling. Sometimes, when I’m going through a certain kind of episode, she will walk me to a place of healing. 

Like I said earlier, I understand that many people don’t have the support network I have, and I get that. But I want you to keep fighting. I want you to become your own best advocate. You’ve got to be the one to change the narrative of your story.

If you look at yourself as a victim or a sufferer, even if you have been victimized or are suffering, that is all you will ever be. Instead of looking at yourself as a person who has the ability to fight your pain in spite of your pain, despite your pain, to thrive someday, and you can become the hero of your journey as opposed to the victim, you will thrive. But if you only see yourself as the previous, the victim of the self-hurt, that’s all you will ever do, and you will never move forward in your life.

I choose to hold gratitude inside my physical and brain pain because it means I’m alive to feel it.

I could sit here, and I could pity myself for my extreme back pain every day, but I don’t. I made a choice not to. I choose to hold gratitude inside my physical and brain pain because it means I’m alive to feel it.

Think of it like this. My buddy Ricky Mendez says it the best. He has this beautiful gratitude poem that he wrote that I have laminated, and I take out every single plane ride I have. I have 300 plane rides a year, speaking around the world. I take it out every plane ride and read his gratitude poem from start to finish.

On that poem, on that gratitude list, I think it goes like this: “I am grateful for the crying baby on the plane, the screaming, crying baby on the plane because it means that I can hear.” That’s just one of them, there are 20. These gratitude messages are so powerful. Gratitude and resilience are the two most protective factors from suicide. Most people don’t know that.

If you can hold gratitude inside the painful experiences you’ve had or you are having, no matter how detrimental they are to your life, you can survive them because you believe in yourself, because you have faith, because you know you can overcome any obstacle that is put in front of you. It’s about perception and perspective. If you change yours, you can always survive your pain.

That’s incredible. If somebody is hearing us right now, they are struggling, and they are having all those thoughts, what is the first thing they should do?

Stop, breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing is the first thing you should do. Inhale for four seconds through your nose. Hold for four seconds, and release for eight seconds. Purse lips like a whistle but no sound. Do that 30 more times, do it 40 more times even. It will bring your mind and your body to a calm. Just breathe.

Recognize this. Suicide is not the answer to your problems. It is a problem. Suicidal ideations are the greatest liars we know. Suicide will never take the pain away. It only makes it impossible for things ever to get better. Choose to commit to life. It may be the hardest commitment you ever make but do it.

Make a choice today to never die by your hands, no matter the pain you are in. Choose to fight for your well-being, your inner strength, and the removal of self-loathing. Finally, be kinder to yourself. Give yourself grace for your mistakes and your failures. Forgive yourself for your wrongs.

You can change your outcome today if you believe. Have faith in yourself; have faith in the human condition. If you have the ability, like me, have faith in God. Prayer can help you in every aspect of your life. It’s not to solve a diagnosed mental illness. You can’t pray away a brain disease, but you can pray for hope, healing, and recovery, and then you can do the work to get there.

If you’re not a prayerful person, if you’re not a faith-filled person, if you don’t believe in God, fine. That’s your prerogative. I’m not going to push my faith on you. But my hope, wish, and prayer is that no matter the pain you are in, you survive it at all costs because you deserve to be here until your natural end and never die by your hands. And suicide is not the answer, I promise you. It’s the problem.

Gratitude and resilience are the two most protective factors from suicide.

It’s very beautiful. It’s so aligned when I see you and hear you say those things. Your eyes gaze on what you’re saying and your heart. Everything is very much coherent. Everything is very much coming from the heart. In some aspects, it’s almost like you’re talking to yourself in the mirror.

I am, every time.

In another way, I can see how much you care. I can see your big heart, it’s really beautiful. I’m so happy God gave you a second chance and that Herbert came and helped you float. He was sent to help you survive. 

If you ended your life at that moment 20-some years ago, you would have missed so many beautiful moments, so many loving moments. You would not have saved so many lives, maybe a kid that is seven that somehow heard you and decided not to commit suicide. You saved not only him but also his whole family.

In Judaism, we say that if you save one life, you save the whole world because that person can have a family, and they can have more kids when you save one life. Can you imagine how many worlds and families you saved by staying alive? For your own heart, how many beautiful moments with your loved ones, those infinite, unmeasurable, beautiful moments?

You are holding hands with your wife, giving a hug to a relative, seeing the smile of a friend. You would not have all these beautiful moments you have co-created with God to be his servant. You would not have that if you had died that day. That’s so pretty. It’s so beautiful.

Thank you so much. I thank God every day that I get to be here. I wake up, and I thank God. I spend the afternoon thanking God and go to bed thanking God. Every waking moment I get to exist is a beautiful gift from him. However you feel about that, once again, that’s your prerogative, but I can’t deny it. I can’t deny that God saved my life that day. I feel so blessed to exist.

Make a choice today to never die by your hands, no matter the pain you are in.

When I went back to the bridge a year later, on the anniversary of my attempt with my father, we dropped a flower over the rail. We walked it down, making the tiniest ripple effects in the water, and two feet to the right, a sea lion popped up.

No way.

It was arguably the most beautiful moment I’ve ever spent with my dad next to him, being the best man at my wedding. You talk about the things I would have missed. I would have missed meeting the love of my life, Margaret Hines. I would have missed marrying her and having my dad be the best man at my wedding.

I would have missed having my dog, Max, for nine years. He was a Shar-Pei. All those wrinkles look just like my dad’s pet. I would have missed him being my emotional support animal and helping others through their emotional pain while traveling with me. I would have missed the birth of my two godchildren, Zoe and Judah, and being there for them, coming into this world and loving them for all these years.

I would have missed teaching my nephew and godson Judah. I’ll never forget it. He was seven, and he came up to me. I remember we walked into his house, and the first thing he said was, “Uncle Kevin, why did you do that? Why did you jump off a bridge?” Kids at his school had told him, and I had to sit him down and explain why I struggled.

He was incredibly empathetic. Just recently, Judah has been met with an individual in his school who texted him that she was going to take her life, and he talked her out of it. His dad showed it to me and said, “He learned that from you.” If we can teach our children to be more compassionate and less apathetic as they age, there wouldn’t be any bullies in those schools.

I have this greater calling. I know where it comes from. I know I’ve made mistakes in my life. I know I’m flawed. I know I’ve hurt people. And I’m trying to repent. I’m trying to recover. I’m trying to be a better person. I’m trying to be a better man to everyone around me.

Suicidal ideations are the greatest lies. Suicide will never take the pain away; it only makes it impossible for things to ever get better. Click To Tweet

For those I’ve affected, I’m sorry for my struggles, my mania, and my psychosis. I’m sorry. To the people in the psych wards, I was in that I was a freaking handful and a very difficult patient, and I’m sorry for the trouble I caused you. But I’m working hard to give back and to find redemption.

That’s beautiful. You moved me to tears. It’s really beautiful. We have to forgive ourselves, all of us. We all did things we were not proud of in our lives. But as long as we hold on to that inner light, we don’t give up and try to be better every day. It’s not a straight line. It’s a roller coaster. It’s up and down and all around.

As long as you have that beautiful heart and beautiful intention, and you help people, and you look at yourself in the mirror. You encourage yourself to listen to the good voices because you have experienced this mental illness where the voices are extreme. 

A lot of people go through their lives. The voices are not as extreme as to get them to jump off of a bridge, but they are as painful as having them feeling tormented, tortured from the inside, and losing hope. Depression comes in many shapes and forms. It’s beautiful what you’re doing, giving people hope.

Make a choice to commit to living. It may be the hardest commitment to make, but it’s also the most rewarding.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

I wonder, is there a documented case of people healing their bipolar completely?

Not to my knowledge. I think that it’s something people live with for the rest of their lives. There’s a lot of debate on that, but I think that I certainly haven’t. When I’ve gone off my meds, I have vicious hallucinations, auditory and visual. I can’t function like that. I can’t be present. 

There are people in the world, and certainly a lot of influencers, that are fond of saying depression is something you can pray or work out a way, and that’s just not the case. It’s a brain disease. Your brain is the single most powerful organ in your body. It’s mostly in automatic mode. It controls every action and makes decisions/indecisions, for lack of a better way of saying it. If your brain is malfunctioning, there goes the rest of you. But people still seem to simplify it and think it’s all in your head. You’re right. It’s in my head; that’s where my brain is.

It may be a gut-to-brain health issue caused by the foods you’re consuming. That’s a possibility because a lot of these foods that are being eaten in America certainly are filled with chemicals pesticides, and they’re poison. They’re poisoning the brain through the gut. Your gut houses all your dopamine and serotonin and creates them. That affects your mental wellbeing. If you’re being fed only processed terrible foods, you’re damaging your brain at the cellular level.

Every waking moment I get to exist is a beautiful gift from God.

But it’s everywhere. It’s not only our gut. The way they spray the skies, they don’t hide that they spray the sky. It’s in our cleaning supply.

It’s in our cleaning solution supplies, and it’s air pollution. It’s everywhere. All these chemicals have come from oil that has been created. It’s even in many pharmaceuticals that we have to take. It’s like a double-edged sword. How do you solve the problem while causing other problems?

I’m very well aware of all of it. I’m just trying to navigate myself through it. I use things like a lot of meditation and mindfulness, education as to my diagnosis, exercise, and eating anti-inflammatory meals as often as I can.

I still struggle. I struggle with eating. I struggle with, I’d be very frank, a food addiction to things like sugar, dairy, and gluten, which are frankly terrible scientifically speaking for your brain.

And very tasty.

Exactly, that’s the point. When you look at how some countries like Europe don’t allow those pesticides to be a part of their wheat production because they know it’s poison, you can go to Italy and eat as much pasta as you want and not get sick.

You won’t feel the same. 

You won’t feel the dairy, and you won’t feel sick. You don’t feel the same. It’s the way they produce it here in America. Sadly, we haven’t sat down and been like, “Hey, wait a minute. This is poisoning our gut and our brain. Why don’t we change the way we make it?”

The Art of Being Broken by Kevin Hines

So much money is to be made from it being the status quo and staying the same that the people that are dying from it, being sick from it, and getting chronic diseases from it don’t count. They don’t matter to our government, and it’s very sad.

Kevin, I have great respect for everything that you said and how you are struggling with this disease physically. I’m like a Pollyanna. I believe that everything can be cured. I love Dr. Dispenza’s work where people have spontaneous cancer remissions. A woman who got blind could see again. If those things happen, and they’re on the physical level of our body, then this could be cured, too. Maybe—just maybe—you can be the first one if it didn’t happen before.

I’m not denying that it’s impossible because I think that when you look at food as medicine and functional medicine, there are ways to change your brain to change your life forever. If that’s possible, I will search until I find that answer. Even if I search for some of those answers and get a little better than I am today, I’d be a happy man.

When I conceived my child, the doctor gave me a 5% chance to conceive. It was almost like nothing. In my mind, I was like, “No, it’s 95%.” Sometimes, it’s about having certainty beyond logic, no matter what anybody tells you is impossible. 

You are obviously a case study of making the impossible possible and possible just for so many lives you touched. There may be more miracles your way that can happen. If God created you and is the watchmaker, he can fix it. Maybe.

I hope so. I’m praying for it, and I’m working towards it. Absolutely.

Amen. I feel like that source, that light that helps us breathe every day, our soul, our life, it’s beyond us. Whatever that force is, it can heal everything in our bodies for me. I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m just saying it’s possible. It can be very hard. Miracles can happen. You had a miracle, and I can get more miracles. All of us can have a lot of miracles. 

Your brain is the most powerful organ in your body — it controls every action and makes every decision. Click To Tweet

What are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

I would say I’d go back to the first one. Be kinder to yourself. Give yourself grace. Number two, be generous to others. Give back so that you are changing someone else’s life because that will change yours. Finally, if they’re still with you and were good to you, tell your mom and dad you love them as often as possible because they won’t be here forever.

Amazing. Where can people find you?

@kevinhinesstory on social, youtube.com/kevinhines with those 800-plus videos. We put three up every week to benefit your brain health. You can get the book The Art of Being Broken: How Storytelling Saves Lives. The book has seven contributing authors who share their struggles with extreme pain and their survival.

Bob Roth, the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, said, “This book is meant for anyone going through pain right now, and reading it will surely help them find hope, healing, and overall well-being.” It’s something that thousands of people have now bought. They have said it dramatically changed their life and their perspective. So please check it out.

Finally, if you want to see the film about my life, Suicide: The Ripple Effect is on Vimeo on demand. It’s a documentary I produced and directed along with Greg Dicharry, my good friend and fellow bipolar advocate. We were just two bipolar kids who wanted to make a movie, so we did. It won three international best film awards. It’s incredible to see the people it’s reached. 

We have a new film coming out called The Net. We’re working on that now.

Beautiful. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for this interview. Thank you for all the people you helped. Thank you for being so kind and genuine. It was really a pleasure having you here.

Nice to meet you, Orion. I hope to see you again. Take care.

Yes, you do. And thank you, listeners. Remember to be kind. Be kinder to yourself, be kind to others. Tell your mom and dad you love them, and have a stellar life. This is Orion till next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓}Seek help and share your struggles when experiencing emotional pain. Overcome stigma by sharing your struggles with trusted individuals.

{✓}Apply the mirror technique when suicidal thoughts arise. Practice self-affirmations to avoid the control of negative thoughts over your actions. 

{✓}Look for visible signs of emotional distress in others. Support and empathize with those in pain.

{✓}Stand up against bullying and harassment. Advocate for consequences for bullies.

{✓}Address mental health concerns in children. Initiate age-appropriate conversations about emotions and well-being.

{✓}Promote positive and empowering media content. Counteract negative influences in the media that contribute to self-harm.

{✓}Practice gratitude to find strength within difficult experiences. Remember, resilience and gratitude are powerful tools for positive mental health.

{✓}Repeat diaphragmatic breathing to calm your body, mind, and soul. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.

{✓}Commit to life, fight for well-being, and resist self-loathing. Remember that suicide is not a solution but a difficult, irreversible end.

{✓}Reframe your self-perception from victimhood to resilience. Believe in your ability to overcome obstacles and thrive.

{✓}Explore Kevin Hine’s YouTube channel for doses of inspiration and tips to enhance your brain health. Also, visit his website, kevinhinesstory.com, for more valuable resources.

Links and Resources

Connect with Kevin Hines


YouTube Videos



Further Resources

About Kevin Hines

Kevin Hines’ story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder for us to love the life we have. Kevin is a multi-award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and an award-winning global suicide prevention and mental health advocate. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19, he attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is now one of only 36 people who survived that 220-foot jump. Kevin’s story is now the only evidence-based story of a suicide attempt survivor.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Orion Talmay, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.

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