Kevin Hines to speak at BVNW Aug. 25

Kevin Hines, author of “Cracked Not Broken,” will speak at BVNW Aug. 25 about his experience with mental illness and how to stay mentally well.

Morgan Lewis, Sports Coordinator

Global speaker, author of “Cracked Not Broken” and mental health advocate Kevin Hines will come to BVNW Aug. 25 to speak to students about mental health and suicide prevention.

Hines attempted suicide in 2000 at the age of 19 by jumping off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. He now speaks about mental health at schools, hospitals, behavioral health groups, correctional facilities and elsewhere across the globe.

Principal Amy Murphy said that Hines’ visit is not a suicide assembly. She said the most important part is what comes after his story – his steps to improving mental health.

“He’s going to talk a little bit about how he got where he is and the story of jumping off the bridge and surviving,” Murphy said. “He’s going to tell you a little bit about that part, but what’s more important is that second part of well-being.”

Hines said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 17. He said he initially had no intention on sharing any of his story with anyone but his close friends and family. Soon after his attempt, however, people around him urged him to speak about his experience. When he first presented, he received letters from 120 seventh and eighth graders about how his speech changed some of their lives.

“I realized right then that it had some kind of an impact,” Hines said. “What I learned right there in that tiny rectory room with those kids on the carpeted floor was that there was great power in the spoken word.”

The key, Hines said, to improving mental health education among adolescents, is to start earlier.

“I think we’re making a mistake by not starting to talk about mental health in grade school…,” Hines said. “If we are going to augment the future of this world to be a place with less suicides…you’re going to have to infiltrate, in my opinion, every fourth and fifth grade class with education about what can happen in their adolescence as it pertains to mental health and suicide.”

Hines said he hopes the students realize the power they have to help students around them who are struggling. He said his goal for Tuesday is to change the uncomfortable and unaccepting stigma surrounding mental health and suicidal idealizations among teenagers.

“I really hope that Blue Valley…builds a community in the Blue Valley district that is accepting of someone with a mental illness and accepting of someone who has suicidal thoughts and not labeling them…,” Hines said.