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Man who tried to take his life shares messages of hope at Mental Health Kansas City Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- May is Mental Health Awareness month, and every year, the Metro Council of Community Behavioral Health Centers holds a conference to educate the community. This is the events fifth year, and it will take place Friday at Cerner's Innovation Campus.

Thursday, as a preview to the Mental Health Kansas City Conference, community members attended "A Night with Kevin Hines." Hines is one of the conference's keynote speakers this year. In 2000, Hines tried to take his own life at the Golden Gate Bridge, but lived. Now he's an advocate for mental health and speaks at events like Mental Health KC.

Doctors diagnosed Hines with bipolar disorder type I with psychotic tendencies when he was 17. About two years later at 19, he tried to take his own life.

"I had an instant regret for my actions and 100 percent recognition that I just made the greatest mistake of my life and it was too late," Kevin Hines said. "I said to myself no Kevin, you can't die here. If you die here, no one will ever know you didn't want to."

Hines says a sea lion kept him afloat until the Coast Guard saved him. He had life saving back surgery that day. He now has a metal plate in his back and chronic back pain. Now his life purpose is to help other people in pain. He's a motivational speaker, he wrote a book, produced a documentary about his journey and has has a YouTube channel dedicated to mental health. Through his father's foundation, he helped advocate for a steel net at the Golden Gate Bridge that will be finished in 2021.

"It's been a long, arduous journey," Hines said. "I still have all the symptoms I've ever had. Mania, depression, hallucinations auditory and visual, panic attacks. anxiety attacks. I just know how to fight them and defeat them one moment at a time."

It's a life-long process for Hines, but he wants people with suicidal thoughts to stop and breathe, and ask for help.

"Just because you're in a world of hurt today, doesn't mean you don't get a beautiful tomorrow," Hines said. "But you have to be there to get there in the first place."

For more mental health resources, visit the You Matter section of FOX4's website. CommCare is one of the organizers of Mental Health Kansas City. You can call CommCare's 24/7 line at 1-888-279-8188 and you can also visit their First Step for Help website.

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