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Meet two men with an incredible connection. They jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and survived. Both say the moment their fingers left the railing, they felt instant regret. It's a story of mistakes, survival, and second chances.


May 19, 2017 08:17AM

On Baker Beach, it appears a pair of tourists are talking like old friends, just trying to take a perfect selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

In fact, Kevin Hines and Ken Baldwin are little more than strangers who happen to share an incredible connection. Both jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge - and survived.

They want you to know the overwhelming emotion they both had the moment their fingertips left the railing.

"The millisecond my legs cleared it, the millisecond of true freefall, instant regret for my actions," said Kevin.

Ken had a startlingly similar experience: "I just vaulted over, and I realized, at that moment, this is the stupidest thing I could have done. Everything could have changed."

Each man had a different journey leading them to the bridge. These are their stories: the mistake they say they made, how they fell, and perhaps, more importantly, how they rose up afterward.

[Image: SELFIE%20OF%20TWO%20TOGETHER.jpg]This undated image shows Ken Baldwin, left, and Kevin Hines, right.

Before the Jump

Kevin Hines

"I jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge on Sept. 25, 2000. It was a Monday," recalled Kevin.

He was just 19 years old and suffering from Bipolar Disorder.

"I was hearing voices in my head saying 'I need to die,' getting louder and louder," said Kevin. "I thought I had to go, I thought I was my family's greatest burden, I thought I was useless."

Kevin's father was concerned, but Kevin managed to convince him he was fine. He assured his father that he would see him that night after work.

"He said one of his mantras, 'Kevin, I love you, be careful.' He kissed me on the cheek, and I stepped out of the car," he said. "I remember thinking, as my father drove away, that's the last time I'll ever see someone I love, and of course the last time anybody I love will ever see me."

[Image: KEVIN%20AT%2019.jpg]This undated image shows Kevin Hines.


Kevin dropped his classes at City College of San Francisco and took a bus to the bridge. Sitting in the back row, he cried openly, not hiding his distress.

"I actually had a pact with myself, this is something that many suicidal people do. If one person says 'Are you ok,' 'Is something wrong,' or 'Can I help you?' I was going to tell them everything and beg them to help me," said Kevin.

No one spoke to him. He spent 40 minutes on the bridge, tears still streaming down his face. And then, finally, someone approached him.

Ken Baldwin

"On Aug. 20, 1985, I jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and I survived."

Ken Baldwin was 28 years old and had just started a family. He and his wife lived in Tracey and had an adorable 3-year-old girl. He also says he had deep depression, which he likens to a "black vortex."

"I would wake up saying, 'Ah, I didn't die in my sleep,'" said Ken. "Everything was unfixable. I've got to get out of this life. Every day was the same: it was the blackness, the darkness."

[Image: KEN%20WITH%20FAMILY.jpg]This undated image shows Ken Baldwin and his family.


Unbeknownst to his wife, Ken was spiraling downward. He describes feeling like a burden to his family.

"I started feeling like I was going to help them by dying. I was going to make their lives better. That's the depression talking, that they would be better off without me," said Ken. "I told my wife, 'Hey, I'm going to do a little extra work, I'm going to be home late,' knowing full well that I was not going to live through the day."

He describes hating his job as an architectural drafter. That morning, he didn't go to work. Instead, he kept driving toward San Francisco and pulled up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

'Instant Regret'

Kevin Hines

Kevin had been waiting for just one person to reach out to him. On the span, a woman came up to him on his left side.

"Blond curly hair, giant sunglasses that didn't fit her face, and a smile. And I thought, she smiled at me, she's going to ask me if I'm ok. I don't have to die today. I'm 19, and I don't have to die," said Kevin. "That's when she pulled out a camera and said 'Will you take my picture?' And I was crushed."

He took the picture and returned her camera. She walked away. Within moments, he jumped from the bridge.

"It was a split-second decision, my thought was, 'Absolutely nobody cares. Nobody.' I took these hands, and I catapulted into freefall," said Kevin.

[Image: KEVIN%20OVERLOOKING%20BRIDGE.jpg]This undated image shows Kevin Hines with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. (KGO-TV)


It only took about 4 seconds for Kevin to hit the water, and he says it felt exactly that fast. But he remembers his few, fleeting thoughts and a flood of emotion.

"Instant regret, powerful, overwhelming. As I fell, all I wanted to do was reach back to the rail, but it was gone," said Kevin. "The thoughts in those 4 seconds, it was 'What have I just done? I don't want to die. God please save me.' Boom."

He fell about 223 feet and hit the water in a seated position, likely at 75 miles per hour. He says he had never felt such pain. Disoriented under the water, he couldn't tell which was up or down. His back was broken; he found out later how severe his injuries were.

"I shattered my T12, L1 and L2 lower vertebrae upon impact," said Kevin. "I missed severing my spinal cord by two millimeters."

Moments before, he had been determined to die. Suddenly, he found himself desperate to live. In blinding pain, he tried to swim upward.

"I remember thinking very clearly, 'Kevin you can't die here, if you die here, no one will ever know that you didn't want to. No one will ever know that you knew you made a mistake.' And I broke the surface.'"

[Image: MARCUS%20BUTLER%20COAST%20GUARD%20PHOTO.jpg]This undated image shows Coast Guard Officer Marcus Butler.


Kevin would be pulled from the water by a Coast Guard crew and Officer Marcus Butler. We tracked Butler down, now living in the Houston area. Years later, he still has nightmares about pulling bodies from the water beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

"The human psyche isn't meant to see bodies in the condition we saw them in," said Butler. "When these people jump, they don't hit the water and go peacefully into the night. I don't think people realize that. Sometimes the bodies are things you'd see on a horror show."

[Image: MARCUS%20BUTLER%20COAST%20GUARD%20BOAT.jpg]

In his four years serving at U.S. Coast Guard Station Golden Gate, he pulled 57 bodies from the water - and just one live man. He believes that many of the people do not die on impact and that it's an agonizing way to go. He has not been able to shake those body recovery missions.

The day he found Kevin is one that he'll never forget.

"He's swimming! And all of us were like, what? He's swimming! And a light switch goes off and this goes from a body recovery to a rescue," said Butler. "It was just a miracle."

Ken Baldwin

Unlike Kevin, once on the bridge, Ken went to great lengths to appear inconspicuous. He was emotionless, his face impassive. He didn't want anyone to know what he was about to do. Internally, he said, he was terrified.

"I walked out onto the bridge, and I was really scared. I was scared that I wasn't making the right choice. I was scared it was going to hurt. But I said, 'You got to go. You can't survive this anymore."

He remembers putting his hands on the railing and looking out toward San Francisco. He counted to 10, he said, and couldn't do it.

[Image: KEN%20BRIDGE.jpg]This undated image shows Ken Baldwin looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. 


"I looked to make sure nobody was near me. I counted again, and jumped." _long read & video


http://abc7.com/society/i-survived-jumpi...e/2012267/
i have seen youtube vids of people jumping to end life..so sad. the design of the barrier isnt good enough of a deterrent to stop them from jumping off.
Most definitely One of the Better Posts.



I was falling with them
(05-20-2017, 11:12 AM)SR-25 Wrote: [ -> ]i have seen youtube vids of people jumping to end life..so sad. the design of the barrier isnt good enough of a deterrent  to stop them from jumping off.

It really is sad...
(05-20-2017, 11:51 AM)ChillBro Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-20-2017, 11:12 AM)SR-25 Wrote: [ -> ]i have seen youtube vids of people jumping to end life..so sad. the design of the barrier isnt good enough of a deterrent  to stop them from jumping off.

It really is sad...

It is and grateful these two lives lived to tell their stories. We have a similar swing span cable bridge, Lions Gate bridge. In the middle of the bridge are written suicide notes when I walked the span.
Here's a documentary I watched ten years ago about the people that jumped, and their families afterward, Kevin Hines is in it too, sad stuff. 




Those two confirm what I've often suspected, that jumpers from high places regret their actions as soon as they enter free fall.  As a skydiver back in the day, I've thought the serotonin rush would shift the incredible levels of depression and anxiety so many are feeling as they contemplate and move towards ending their lives.

We had a very high rate of suicide in our area, far above the state and national levels for an extended period of time, years actually.  In addressing the issue, we did a suicide prevention program.  It was surprising to find out how many were in active consideration of taking their lives, and those were just the ones who coped to it. The program brought the numbers to zero for more than a year as we raised awareness of the issue in our community. and helped those who were not only in active contemplation of doing it, but those who were thinking of it, but did not yet have a plan for carrying it out.  

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation, if those in such dire space realize that, and work throught to solutions, they usually don't do it.
(05-20-2017, 11:07 PM)Archangel Wrote: [ -> ]Those two confirm what I've often suspected, that jumpers from high places regret their actions as soon as they enter free fall.  As a skydiver back in the day, I've thought the serotonin rush would shift the incredible levels of depression and anxiety so many are feeling as they contemplate and move towards ending their lives.

We had a very high rate of suicide in our area, far above the state and national levels for an extended period of time, years actually.  In addressing the issue, we did a suicide prevention program.  It was surprising to find out how many were in active consideration of taking their lives, and those were just the ones who coped to it. The program brought the numbers to zero for more than a year as we raised awareness of the issue in our community. and helped those who were not only in active contemplation of doing it, but those who were thinking of it, but did not yet have a plan for carrying it out.   

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation, if those in such dire space realize that, and work throught to solutions, they usually don't do it.

It's funny because I've never heard of, or known, anyone that lived through an attempted suicide that would say that they didn't instantly regret what they had attempted. I had a couple of friends that actually accomplished killing themselves in high school and those suicides( at least a couple) were so confusing to me. The first person that I ever knew that killed themselves was literally one of the most, if not the most, popular kid in school... Nobody could figure it out, he had problems with his new babies mother one day and the next he was gone. The next person I knew who killed themselves was because she couldn't live with what she had been a part of unintentionally. One day while skipping school her and 2 dudes from the neighborhood decided to rob a local store owner. One of the dudes shot "Uncle Ben" almost immediately because he reached for his gun. E

We need more resources dedicated to mental illness and that's one thing that I'm completely down for government coverage of. As long as it's not in the hands of the current medical community who simply try to normalize conditions instead of actually treating them(seems to be the current theme). I also think that states should control the coverage voluntarily according to the people's desires.

I'll stop now but I will say that mental health care is a slippery slope but a necessary slope imo and it's a little different than standard health care imo

/rant Adam1
Good read, interesting writing and story. Big impact on the jumpers fig and lit.

That is a very tall bridge. Water is about 55 +/- 2 degrees year round.

[Image: bridge%20drop%20height.JPG]
(05-20-2017, 11:48 PM)ChillBro Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-20-2017, 11:07 PM)Archangel Wrote: [ -> ]Those two confirm what I've often suspected, that jumpers from high places regret their actions as soon as they enter free fall.  As a skydiver back in the day, I've thought the serotonin rush would shift the incredible levels of depression and anxiety so many are feeling as they contemplate and move towards ending their lives.

We had a very high rate of suicide in our area, far above the state and national levels for an extended period of time, years actually.  In addressing the issue, we did a suicide prevention program.  It was surprising to find out how many were in active consideration of taking their lives, and those were just the ones who coped to it. The program brought the numbers to zero for more than a year as we raised awareness of the issue in our community. and helped those who were not only in active contemplation of doing it, but those who were thinking of it, but did not yet have a plan for carrying it out.   

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation, if those in such dire space realize that, and work throught to solutions, they usually don't do it.

It's funny because I've never heard of, or known, anyone that lived through an attempted suicide that would say that they didn't instantly regret what they had attempted. I had a couple of friends that actually accomplished killing themselves in high school and those suicides( at least a couple) were so confusing to me. The first person that I ever knew that killed themselves was literally one of the most, if not the most, popular kid in school... Nobody could figure it out, he had problems with his new babies mother one day and the next he was gone. The next person I knew who killed themselves was because she couldn't live with what she had been a part of unintentionally. One day while skipping school her and 2 dudes from the neighborhood decided to rob a local store owner. One of the dudes shot "Uncle Ben" almost immediately because he reached for his gun. E

We need more resources dedicated to mental illness and that's one thing that I'm completely down for government coverage of. As long as it's not in the hands of the current medical community who simply try to normalize conditions instead of actually treating them(seems to be the current theme). I also think that states should control the coverage voluntarily according to the people's desires.

I'll stop now but I will say that mental health care is a slippery slope but a necessary slope imo and it's a little different than standard health care imo

/rant  Adam1
Great thoughts and experiences.

Had a good friend who opted out in very similar experiences as you describe.
Handsome successful articulate guy, married 4 years, had two little kids, just decided to go.
He always had a deeply concealed pain that ate at him, like he was running from it.
No one knew this, but I could sense it in him. At 16 - early 20's I didn't have the capacity or experience to help him, so instead I was just the best friend I could try and be.

It was a terrible shock to me.
Still can't quite understand or accept it fully.
Like subconsciously I still expect to run into him in the store someday.
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