‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect’ – A Journey That Is Changing Lives
I walked into The Majestic movie theatre in Mequon, Wisconsin on March 12, 2018 with my class, anxious and excited to see “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” a documentary about Kevin Hines’ attempt to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. My professor told us ahead of time that the movie was probably going to be heavy, and if we needed to step out for a while, we could. I expected to feel depressed after the movie, and I knew I was going to cry.
At the start of the movie, I had my tissues in my lap, ready to go when I would cry. I’m not a subtle crier, and I did not want to get up from my seat multiple times to get more tissues.
About halfway through the documentary, when Hines interviewed those who had an impact on him in his life, I realized that my face was bone-dry, but my heart was racing. My heart was racing out of inspiration and action. I knew that I had to write this review how Hines’ attitude was reflected in the movie: courageous, calm and heartfelt.
The subject of suicide is taboo to many people in America. It is uncomfortable to talk about, it encompasses many negative feelings toward those who have experienced it first-hand or not, and it is just simply a sensitive subject to talk about. Kevin Hines, however, feels the exact opposite as an advocate, world-wide speaker, and lead in his documentary, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect.”
Hines survived a serious jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California on September 24, 2000. Hines explains in his documentary that he allowed his depression and bipolar disorder take over his life, but he gives us a compelling visual in the movie. Hines is only one out of 26 people who have survived after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
The movie takes place in San Francisco 17 years after Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Through his movie, the audience gains insight on Kevin’s life before his jump, during his jump, and after his jump. Hines has lived to tell his story and become an activist for mental illness and suicide prevention. In the movie, he gives insight on what he wished people had said to him, what he wished he had done instead of jumping, how he is grateful for his life now, and what we, society, can do to be advocates for suicide prevention, whether or not we have personal experiences.
Never in my life would I have ever thought that I was going to be watching a documentary like this and feeling a sense of hope and gratefulness for the brave people who are not afraid to talk about this subject. It is through their stories that we can start to look for a change in how we treat people and how we offer options to those who are struggling with mental illness.
In anticipation of seeing the movie, I really had no idea what to expect. I did some research on the movie, but I wanted to go in with a clean, open mind and embrace Kevin’s story and his message before thinking too much about how this can relate to my life. Sure enough, I got two incredible answers to my questions: 1. What is Kevin’s message? 2. Why is this important for me to know in my personal and social life right now?
Although a complicated subject, Kevin’s message is simple. We all have to look out for each other, we have to find new ways to treat and acknowledge mental illness, and we cannot blame anything but our own ignorance for a rapid decline of mental health. Mental health will never go away, and the more we pretend it is not happening, the worse the cases will be.
For me, it is important to recognize that suicide is prevalent in my daily life, even if I do not know anyone considering. It is important for me to know because I am one more person who understands the severity of the issue, and I am one more person who can help with this cause.
Kevin Hines is travelling around the world right now to promote his movie and share more of his story. Although I did not have the opportunity to meet Kevin before writing my review, I am glad that he is proactive about this issue. In addition, Travis Pipes, friend of Kevin’s and interviewee in the movie, travels throughout the country to talk about their mission. Both Hines and Pipes exemplified in their global project that you don’t need to be a mental health professional to be a mental health and suicide advocate. If you recognize the issue and DO something about it, that’s much better than staying quiet. The worldwide sensation has opened up the conversation about suicide and helped diminish the stigma that mental illness is shameful.
On a personal note, I have experienced the effects of mental illness in many circumstances of my life. Whether I was experiencing a decline in my mental health, a family member was experiencing a decline in their mental health, or a friend was experiencing a decline in their mental health, I was personally affected one way or another.
While I did not always know what to do about the situation, now, after seeing “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” reading Cracked: Not Broken, and talking to Travis Pipes, I know that everyone can be an advocate for mental health in a positive way, even if they do not have a license to treat someone properly. The positive impact of the movie, the book, and my interview with Travis Pipes opened my eyes to this serious issue. Even though it is very difficult to talk about suicide, a conversation needs to be started so a plan can be put into place to help prevent suicides from happening. Thank you, Kevin Hines and Travis Pipes for making the issue real and relevant. Thank you for starting a conversation and sharing your stories in hopes of making a change for the better.
Below is a video interview of Hines’ story. He shares his thoughts at the time of his jump and his gratefulness for a second chance at life. It takes a lot of courage and strength to speak about a journey like his, and the fact that he is nationally speaking about his journey triggers that we need to make a change in the way we view ourselves and the world.
Dr. Bob Dubois, attendee of Suicide: The Ripple Effect
“More people die from suicide than from so many other things we care deeply about reducing, including traffic accidents, murder, war, and natural disasters. Watching the film, ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect’ will inspire the courage to notice when someone might be in distress, ask the question, ‘Are you okay?,’ and when appropriate, guide them to the help they need. Our actions when others are in crisis can save a life.”
If you did miss the movie showing in your area, you can read his nonfiction account, “Cracked: Not Broken” on his experiences before, during, and after his jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. The book is also inspiring and reiterated that knowing that people attempt suicide isn’t enough. We need to do something about this issue, and whether or not you have experienced this personally, we all can make a change for the better.
For more information on the documentary and to see when it is playing near you, check out Suicide: The Ripple Effect’s website.