On September 24, 2000, Kevin Hines walked onto the Golden Gate Bridge with one goal: He was going to kill himself.
Hines, then 19, was convinced that “nobody cared.”
But when he finally took the leap, flinging himself off the structure, Hines says his heart was filled with an unexpected emotion.
“The millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret,” he says.
In four seconds, Hines fell 25 stories at 75 miles per hour. When he hit the water below, he says he experienced “the most physical pain” he’d ever felt.
According to Hines, only 1 percent of people who attempt suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge survive the fall. He was one of them.
Hines, now a mental health advocate and suicide prevention activist, said a friendly sea lion saved his life, swimming around him until he was rescued by the Coast Guard.
“It just kept circling beneath me. I remember floating atop the water and this thing just bumping me, bumping me up,” he told AFP earlier this year.
A woman who had been driving past when he jumped and immediately called for help was also a factor in his survival, he said.
In the Buzzfeed video, Hines, who has bipolar disorder, urged others struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide to seek help.
“It’s okay not to be okay. It’s not okay not to ask someone to back you up,” he said. “Recovery happens. I’m living proof.”