Message of hope comes to Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Message of hope comes to Aspen

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

Kevin Hines

ASPEN – Kevin Hines’ life should have ended Sept. 25, 2000. Instead, in many ways, it began.His story of survival after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in a suicide attempt is less about cheating death and more about learning to live. He’ll share it Thursday at Aspen’s Paepcke Auditorium in an appearance hosted by the Aspen Hope Center. The event is a fundraiser for the center, an organization devoted to suicide prevention and outreach to those struggling with mental-health and substance-abuse issues.Hines, now 31, was diagnosed as bipolar at age 17 and calls his path in life “a huge, rocky road filled with pain and agony.” Voices in his head drove him to jump from the bridge, he said, but he is one of 33 who have survived the plunge and one of few to regain full mobility, even though he broke his back in the fall.Still recovering from his injuries in 2001, Hines reluctantly let himself be talked into speaking to a group of seventh- and eighth-graders. Tearful and petrified, he shared the story for the first time.”There were 120 kids. I got 120 letters,” he said in a telephone interview last week from San Francisco. In the letters, six of the youths confessed to having contemplated suicide themselves. All of them were referred to help and are fine today, Hines said.”That was when I knew I had to do this,” he said. “This is my life’s work. This is my calling.”Hines has spoken on campuses and military bases and at conferences and fundraisers. His memoir, “Cracked … Not Broken, The Kevin Hines Story,” is on its way.Michelle Muething, program director at the Aspen Hope Center, heard Hines speak at the National Conference on Mental Health and Addiction Conference and found inspiration in his message of survival and hope.”I call it an art – an art of living well – because it’s something you have to work on,” Hines said.Though he is not cured of his illness, Hines recognizes the signs of internal trouble.”I know when I’m getting bad,” he said. “I will walk myself into a hospital, I will check myself in, and I will stay until I’m living well.”Hines’ appearance in Aspen coincides with Suicide Prevention Month in September. Tickets to his 5 p.m. talk are $25 for adults, $10 for students and $75 for a reception. Space is limited; call the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation at 970-544-1298 to RSVP and purchase tickets.The Aspen Hope Center has served more than 1,100 clients since it opened in June 2010. The center offers a 24-hour hotline (970-925-5858) to provide referral services and crisis intervention. janet@aspentimes.com