Suicide attempt survivor shares his story with high school students
Leaders in Puyallup recognize that suicide isn’t an easy topic to discuss.
They want to provide a safe place for people to do so.
The Puyallup Police Department partnered with the Puyallup School District to invite Kevin Hines, who survived a 200-foot fall from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2000, to speak at a community event.
Hines, a storyteller and film maker, travels the country to share his story of struggling with depression, bipolar schizophrenia and his suicide attempt. He visited Gig Harbor students in November.
Now it’s Puyallup’s turn.
Hines will speak 7 p.m. on April 17 at the Washington State fairgrounds. The event is free and open to the public.
Police Chief Scott Engle says Hines’ message to “be here tomorrow and every day after” is one of hope that the community should share with its youth.
“In Puyallup we’re a community of compassion, and this is an opportunity for us as a community to come together to help our young people deal with an epidemic that’s sweeping the country, occurring right here in Puyallup,” Engle said in a video announcement.
Engle said Washington state is 11 percent higher in death by suicide with teenagers than the national average.
“We lose, nationally, a youth to death by suicide every eight hours,” Engle said.
According to the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, 27 percent of 10th graders considered attempting suicide in the past year, while 22 percent said they had made a suicide plan and 13 percent said they attempted suicide.
Puyallup superintendent Tim Yeomans said the district lost a student to suicide earlier this year.
“One is way too many,” Yeomans said.
Yeomans said over his 7-year tenure as superintendent, the district has experienced more than five teen suicides.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, there were 123 deaths by suicide in Pierce County in 2008 compared to 190 in 2017. The Pierce County age-adjusted rate was 15.16 suicides per 100,000 people in 2008 and 21.81 in 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, 25 deaths by suicide in Pierce County occurred between the ages of 10 and 17 at a rate of about 5 suicides per 100,000 people, while 88 occurred between 18 and 24 at a rate of about 22 suicides per 100,000.
The Puyallup Police Department and Puyallup School District worked with the DOH and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to put on the event.
“Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department works with partners to help reduce mental health stigma and increase access to resources including access to care,” spokeswoman Edie Jeffers said in an email.
Gig Harbor residents created a coalition to support suicide prevention and installed signs on the Narrows bridge earlier this month. Puyallup police hope something similar forms in their own community.
“This is a starting point to begin the conversation,” Yeomans said.
Anyone in need of help can call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The national crisis text line is 741741.
The lifelines are available for someone who needs assistance, has a coworker, family member or friend they are concerned about, or someone who would like more information about mental health resources in their community.
ABOUT THE EVENT
What: Presentation by Kevin Hines, global speaker, best-selling author and mental health advocate.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17
Where: Agriplex at the Washington State Fairgrounds, 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup