Anyone who heard the Today programme on Radio 4 on 28th June will have been astonished and moved by the piece on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Since it was built in 1937 over 1400 people have committed suicide by jumping from it.
Now, after a successful campaign, it has been voted to spend money on a stainless steel safety net. Among those involved in the decision was Kevin Hines,and we heard him interviewed by John Humphries.
Kevin is bi-polar, and aged 19 he jumped from the bridge. At the split second his hands let go of the rail he says he was snapped out of his psychosis and filled with regret, praying to God to let him live.
He hit the water at 75 mph, like crashing into a brick wall. He was then vacuumed 80 feet down. Still praying, he struggled to push himself to what he hoped was the surface. He started to see a circle of light, and tried to aim at it, when he felt something brushing his legs. All he could think was that he had survived the fall, only to be killed by a shark. He kicked at it, but it would not go. Then he found himself at the surface, where he stayed bobbing around until the coastguards rescued him.
In hospital he nearly died of pneumonia. His teeth had been knocked out, but worse was the injury to his spine. Some lower vertebrae had shattered, and shards had embedded into internal organs. Surgeons painstakingly removed them, then mashed them into a paste which was inserted into a titanium tube and inserted in his spine, thus saving him from life in a wheel chair.
In a strange twist of life, he later met with one of the bystanders who had been there next to him when he jumped. Kevin mentioned he was convinced the shark would kill him, and was astonished when the man told him there was no shark. A sea lion had stayed with him, supporting him right up until his rescue.
He now takes nothing for granted, every day he recalls how he wanted to live.
Sadly, there are no sea lions or rescue boats where I live in the Midlands. But there are the great people on Moodscope, helping to keep each other afloat just that bit longer.
A Moodscope member.