One evening last month something extraordinary happened… 

As part of its We Need to Talk initiative on youth mental health, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit in partnership with the Friendship Circle, hosted a community-wide event featuring suicide attempt survivor Kevin Hines. Kevin is an author, filmmaker and mental health advocate who has the distinction of being one of the very few people to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge — attempting to take his own life — and live.  

With vulnerability, inspiration and humor, Kevin shared his story in front of hundreds of people at the Detroit Country Day Seligman Performing Arts Center. His message of hope, healing and recovery teaches the art of mental health wellness and the ability to survive pain with true resilience.   

With vulnerability, inspiration and humor, Kevin shared his story in front of hundreds of people at the Detroit Country Day Seligman Performing Arts Center.
With vulnerability, inspiration and humor, Kevin shared his story in front of hundreds of people at the Detroit Country Day Seligman Performing Arts Center.

As Jews, we’re taught to do what we can, when we can, to help heal the world. Yet often it’s difficult to see the real impact we make when we support a group or a cause, financially or otherwise. But this time the difference was clear.  

After Kevin’s presentation, during Q&A and beyond, some young members of our community expressed their own struggles with suicidal thoughts and feelings of helplessness. With Kevin there to listen, empathize and offer hugs, and with support staff from Jewish Family Services on hand, we were able to keep them safe and to get them the help they needed. Now they know that no matter how hard life gets, it’s ok to ask for help… with no stigmas attached.  

It’s Ok to Talk.  

If you see someone struggling with mental illness, don’t turn away. Ask them if they’re ok and offer to assist them. As Kevin shared, people who are suicidal don’t want to die, they just want someone to help them. 

We Need to Talk is the youth mental health initiative of the Detroit Jewish community supported by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. It’s aimed at raising awareness, reducing stigma and changing the community conversation around mental illness. WN2T.org, the We Need to Talk website, is a great resource for parents, educators and young people to find information and crisis support.  

To learn more about Kevin Hines and to order copies of his book visit kevinhinesstory.com.  

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