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Fri, May 24

Suicide attempt survivor to offer perspective on attempt, recovery

“Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always,” Kevin Hines, who is expected to talk at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the Ruth Street Theater at Prescott High School. (Courtesy)

“Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always,” Kevin Hines, who is expected to talk at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the Ruth Street Theater at Prescott High School. (Courtesy)

San Francisco native Kevin Hines knows the desperation that leads someone to contemplate suicide – he is a living miracle as one of a few to survive a leap off the Golden Gate Bridge.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the Ruth Street Theater at Prescott High School, the star of the February 2018 film “Suicide: The Ripple Effect” will offer an audience of what is expected to be several hundred teenagers and parents a personal perspective on suicide and its impacts to families, friends and communities.

Armed to Know, a nonprofit organization committed to provoking conversations on tough topics between parents and teens, is sponsoring the event, which is free to the public.

For more information on Armed to Know, the event, or how to donate, visit the website: www.armedtoknow.org

An anonymous donor has offered to match whatever donations are raised to cover its costs.

As in all its programs, Armed to Know is arranging for break-out sessions for parents and teens; parents will hear from a mother who lost a son to suicide and teens will hear from a teen who contemplated suicide. The organization prides itself on providing scientific data to its presentations, arranging for experts in the field, or as in Hines’ case, with personal experience with the topic.

The year-old nonprofit relies on donations to offer four programs a year. Past ones have focused on substance abuse, including an emergency workshop on the fentanyl crisis; self-image, emotional intelligence and the adverse impacts exposure to pornography has on youth and adults.

In Hines’ film, the now 38-year-old is clear his knee-jerk plan to end his life as a 19-year-old struggling college student was less about death than it was about ridding himself of his untreated depression and mental angst. He, too, suggests had one person reached out to him in his deepest despair that day in 2000 he most likely would not have made the jump. Instead, a woman who spotted him pacing at the edge asked him to take her photograph. He did just before he dived.

In the years since he recovered, Hines has emerged as a mental health advocate who still struggles with bipolar disease but no longer sees his illness as something he will allow to defeat him. He authored a book about his experience titled, “Cracked Not Broken; Surviving and Thriving After A Suicide Attempt.”

Right now, Hines is on a tour to speak to high school students across the country. His message is one of hope and resilience.

The Yavapai County Suicide Prevention Coalition is encouraging the community to rally around this program because of the importance and impact of the message. The coalition showed Hines’ film at Harkins Theater last September on National Suicide Prevention Day.

“It’s going to be an incredible event on a topic that is not talked about enough,” said Brandi Jex, an Armed to Know member.

All of the speakers, including Hines, will be offering education and hope to those who are suffering, and to those who are around others who may be suffering and need some help, she said. Though their stories may differ, Jex said a common thread is the need to have conversations so no else loses someone they love because they were afraid or felt helpless to make a difference.

For Jex, the message she has garnered in planning the event is that all of these people simply needed someone to acknowledge them, to extend some kindness and compassion so they did not feel so alone.

That reality is a message “to all of us,” Jex said.

“We could be that person who says a kind word that changes the trajectory that someone is on,” Jex said. “This is not just a message for someone who is having thoughts of suicide. It is a message to all of us to do our part. You never know when something you say can save a life.”

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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