On Monday, many of us were looking forward to hearing Kevin Hines, suicide survivor and mental health advocate, speak to our community about the pressing issue of suicide prevention.
Those of us who knew his story of surviving a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge were anxious to be awed and inspired. There is no doubt that it was a major disappointment to many when we learned that he would not physically be here because of mechanical issues with his aircraft.
Regardless, Hines went above and beyond to present to us via livestream, and his message of hope, the importance of reaching out for help and working through the pain that inevitably comes up for all of us in life was shared with our community. It was powerful and inspiring, and perhaps impactful in ways that having him here according to the plan wouldn’t have allowed for.
For those of us on the planning end, we realized that the experience of overcoming disappointment with an open mind, hope and determination allowed us to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Hines spoke to our community candidly, and the audience of over 400 attendees stayed engaged. We heard the story of a survivor who fights every day to manage his mental illness and is thriving through self-care, treatment, healthy interpersonal relationships and maintaining hope.
We want to thank each and every one of you who attended and supported this. It is our hope that you will carry Hines’ message with you and share it with others. It’s OK to not be OK, but it’s not OK to not ask for help. Take steps to overcome the fear of being awkward or unsure and say hello or smile to a stranger, ask people how they are, really see your neighbors in this community. Keep an open mind when it comes to expectations – we never know what life is going to hand to us, but we have the power to overcome so much with support.
We hope that Hines will visit our community in the near future (we will keep you posted) so that these conversations can continue, and based on the attendance and feedback from students, community members and organizers, we strongly believe that this community has momentum to make powerful and positive changes to prevent suicides. This community has so much to offer, and we are overwhelmed with how everyone came together and supported this program.
Thank you so much to our supportive sponsors and organizers: The C.O.D.Y. Project, Greg Felsen, the Ledford family, San Juan Basin Public Health, Gordon South, Alpine Bank, The Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County, Jeff Dupont, 5280 Drywall & Repairs, Axis Health System, Strater Hotel, Darin and Carol Jones, Megan Wrona, Glenna Sexton, FLC Community Relations, FLC Department of Arts and Sciences, FLC Counseling Center, and all the individual donors and supporters who made this powerful event a reality. Be here tomorrow!
Kendra Gallegos Reichle is coordinator, Student Wellness Initiatives and adviser, Wellness Peer Advisory Council (WellPAC) at Fort Lewis College.