Kevin Hines, in front of stage, delivers the keynote presentation Saturday at the Rotary District 7790 Conference at the Waterville Opera House. Hines, who attempted suicide in 2000 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, is now a motivational speaker, author and documentary filmmaker. Jake Freudberg/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — When 19-year-old Kevin Hines jumped off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2000, he had one thought in his mind.

“At that moment, I told myself the single greatest lie I’ve ever told,” Hines said. “Absolutely no one cares. Was that true?”

“No,” responded the crowd of well over 100 who attended a speech from Hines, now 42, on Saturday at the Waterville Opera House.

Hines, one of the less than 40 people to survive a suicide attempt on the landmark bridge, delivered the keynote presentation at the Rotary District 7790 Conference.

This weekend’s three-day district conference in Waterville brought together Rotary clubs from across Maine and Quebec. It was one of several events in central Maine this weekend expected to draw thousands to the region.

Rotary International is a global service organization with about 1.4 million members in more than 46,000 clubs, according to its website. The group works on issues ranging from promoting peace and health to protecting the environment. Waterville has two clubs, the Rotary Club of Waterville and the Waterville Sunrise Rotary Club.


Those who attended the district conference in Waterville had opportunities for “fellowship, learning, service and laughter,” according to a promotional video.

The focus of Hines’ speech, mental health and suicide prevention, fit in with the conference’s theme of “Hope in Action.”

“You are the embodiment of hope in action,” District Gov. Tina Chapman told Hines after his talk.

Thomas McAdam, CEO of regional mental health provider Kennebec Behavioral Health, said in opening remarks that statistics show Maine and Quebec residents are equally affected by mental health issues.

“There’s virtually no difference,” McAdam said. “We all know that mental health and substance abuse-related issues affect all of us. There is a shared culture and shared values in Maine and Quebec, and we see that there’s a lot of similarities.”

More than 700,000 people die from suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization. In Maine, there were 268 suicide deaths in 2022, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.


A motivational speaker, author and documentary filmmaker, Hines has received national attention in the years since he survived his attempt to kill himself.

Hines, who said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said his mental struggles began at infancy. His biological parents neglected him and his brother, who died at a young age, and did not provide proper nutrition, which affected his brain.

“I was, by definition, mentally ill from the very beginning of my life,” Hines said.

At 9 months old, Hines was adopted by caring parents, who also adopted two other children, he said.

But at the age of 17, Hines said he was suffering from paranoia, delusions, mania and depression. The suicide of a high school theater director had a significant impact on his mental health, Hines said.

Hines was ultimately led to attempt to take his own life on the Golden Gate Bridge. Nobody, including a bus driver to a passing tourist, tried to help him that day.


After jumping from about 220 feet and hitting the water, Hines realized he made a mistake.

“All I wanted to do was live,” he said.

Nearly everyone who has jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge has died, Hines said. Since the bridge opened in 1937, there have been more than 2,000 suicide attempts on it, according to the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group that advocates for suicide prevention measures on the bridge.

As of the beginning of this year, a safety net has been installed on about 95% of the bridge’s 1.7-mile span, according to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. While the net was partially constructed in 2023, there were 14 confirmed suicides, down from the 20-year average of 30 per year, the district said.

After he landed in the Golden Gate strait, Hines said he struggled to stay on the surface, but was aided by a sea animal, and eventually rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard boat.

The suicide attempt left a significant impact on Hines, he said: He suffered severe spinal injuries and has been admitted to psychiatric wards 10 times between 2010 and 2019.

But Hines said he is thankful for being alive.

“It’s been a long and arduous journey,” Hines said. “But also a beautiful one.”

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