From April to June, as the country strived to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans suffered a blow to their mental health, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control.
According to the report, 40.9% of the respondents reported experiencing at least one negative mental health consequence during the three-month period. Those consequences included anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. That was a significant increase from the same period in 2019.
Kevin Hines knows how dangerous these symptoms can become. When he was 19 years old, it took jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge for Hines to realize he did not want to die.
Hines spoke at a Facebook Live event Tuesday sponsored by Burrell Behavioral Health to recognize Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Hines is an author, filmmaker and activist for suicide prevention awareness.
Burrell Behavioral Health is a mental health clinic that provides care across 17 counties in Missouri.
Since surviving the 25-story fall into the water in 2000, Hines has dedicated his life to speaking out about his mental health journey.
“I had an instantaneous regret for my actions,” Hines said. “All I could think about on the way down is what if I just don’t want to die.”
Hines credits his survival to many factors, including a sea lion that kept him afloat until the Coast Guard arrived.
To maintain his mental health, he sticks to a carefully perfected self-care routine. He also follows a strict sleeping schedule, exercise regimen and a healthy diet.
Hines also said that, during a time of increasing social isolation, it is more important than ever to consciously connect to other people. This echoes the CDC’s report, which noted that stay-at-home orders and the ensuing isolation could be contributing to COVID-19’s impact on the country’s mental health.
Hines’ film, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect” details Hines’ personal experience and other stories of people who have had personal tragedies of their own.
He advised the audience to be present when connecting with their loved ones.
“Just listen to understand, as opposed to listening to interpret and respond,” Hines said. “Be there in that moment.”