Kevin Hines Shares His Story Of Jumping From The Golden Gate Bridge — 'All I Wanted To Do Was Live'

Hines' survival story is one of perseverance and hope.

Kevin Hines telling his story on Mark Dohner's podcast @markdohner / TikTok

On a podcast titled “Livin’ Large with Mark Dohner,” host Mark Dohner welcomed a guest named Kevin Hines who, 23 years ago, jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.

Since then, he’s made it his life’s mission to advocate for suicide prevention and told his incredibly powerful and moving story on Dohner’s podcast four years ago. It recently resurfaced and has moved everyone once again.


Kevin Hines felt regret the moment he jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and owes his life to a sea lion.

“I hit that water, 225ft, 25 stories, 75 miles an hour,” Hines told Dohner in a TikTok clip. “In 4 seconds, you hit that water, and the impact reverted through my legs and shattered my T 12, L one, and L 2. They just popped and splintered inside me.”

Words can’t explain just how emotionally packed and powerful Hines’ story is, but it includes some incredible moments of introspection, reflection, realization, and hope. Thanks to the help of several people in his life, including a sea lion named Herbert, he embraced his second chance at life and became outspoken in advocating for suicide prevention.


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That fateful day, 23 years ago, Hines claimed that he felt as though he had to die. Voices told him that it was “inevitable.” Although he had written a note and told his father he loved him prior to leaving, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about what was really going on.

Many of the important strategies for action laid out in the CDC’s Suicide Prevention Resources involve creating protective environments for everyone where support is easily accessible and coping skills are taught. The goal is to be able to talk about these thoughts and feelings with sensitivity and care.


Although Hines’ father knew about his son’s bipolar disorder, he wasn’t aware of what was really happening in his head, and that’s no one’s fault. “It wasn't so much that I wanted to die, I believed I had to,” he explained to Dohner. “What do you do when that happens and you never experienced it before and you've no one to talk to about or you feel you have no one to talk to about?”

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As he sat on the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge, a woman asked him for a picture.

A beautiful, blonde woman with curly hair approached Hines on his left side and asked, “Will you take my picture?” At the moment, he believed that “nobody cares,” but today, he actually thinks that, in her own way, she was trying to reach him in the best way she knew how.

In that situation, how would anyone know the exact right thing to do or say? It’s possible she knew what was going on, but didn’t want to make things worse or potentially put his life in her hands, and so to take his attention away for a moment, hoping that it would be enough, she asked for a photo.


“She was the only person that engaged, that interacted, that tried to connect. I didn't see it, and the voices won that day,” he explained. 

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When he landed 70 feet underwater, he thought, 'All I wanted to do was live.'

“I went down 70ft beneath the water's surface and I opened my eyes, and all I wanted to do was live. I swam 70ft with one breath without using my legs, as fast as I could, thinking the entire time, ‘If I die here, no one will ever know I didn't want to,’ and that's what drove me,” he said.

Upon reaching the surface, however, he struggled to stay afloat. His boots were filled with water, his wet clothes weighed him down, and he couldn’t use his legs, so he thought to himself that although he survived the jump, he would die anyway.


This thought only increased more when he noticed a large, slimy animal circling around him in the water — he thought it was a shark, and accepted his fate, but it had other plans. 

“No longer was I wading in the water. I'm lying on top of it, being kept buoyant by this thing. It was bumping me up. I was no longer swimming. I'm lying on my back, being kept afloat by this thing, thinking, when is it gonna bite me?”

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It wasn’t until a show called Prime Time Live on ABC with John Canyon, where a fan wrote in a letter, that Hines discovered what the animal was and what he experienced. The fan’s name was Morgan McWard, and he was from Las Vegas, Nevada.


“He was on the bridge that day with his mother. He was next to me when I jumped. He wrote to me, ‘Kevin, I'm so very glad you're alive. I was standing less than 2ft away from you when you jumped. It's haunted me until right now watching this show ‘cause no one would ever tell me whether you lived or died,’” he said. “‘By the way, Kevin, there was no shark, but there was a sea lion, and the people above believed it to be keeping you afloat until the Coast Guard boated around behind you.”

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Hines’s tale is one of second chances and holds as an inspiration to all.

Hines is one of the 36 people who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and he uses his second chance to advocate for suicide prevention in the hopes that anyone struggling with those thoughts can get help or relate to his story.


Tens of thousands of comments on the TikTok reupload alone show just how much Hines’s story resonates with people. With comments like, “His story is so beautiful and inspiring” and “He is so strong for talking about this,” Hines' survival is a message of hope.

Kevin Hines is releasing a book, The Art Of Being Broken: How Storytelling Saves Lives, on September 11, 2023. It’s a self-help book for people living with mental and brain pain, struggling with physical disorders, or dealing with any of hardship in their lives and includes seven contributing chapters from people from all walks of life who have all triumphed over incredible adversity. 

His YouTube channel offers more then 800 videos all designed to better people's brain, mind, behavioral, physical, spiritual, mental health and well-being. 

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.


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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.