The Senate Select Committee on Mental Health held a hearing in San Francisco today on suicide education and prevention strategies.
The committee heard from individuals, organizations, state agencies, and researchers with the hopes of developing a comprehensive statewide plan against suicide.
State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, is the chairman of the committee. Other members include state Sens. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro.
“Suicide is indeed preventable we just need to know where to allocate our resources,” Leno said.
Beall presented a resolution to San Francisco Suicide Prevention, a community crisis center that has become the model for many centers throughout the country.
The center gave a presentation on its “MyLife” program, similar to a suicide prevention hotline, where teens can text to a number and talk to a counselor, San Francisco Suicide Prevention spokeswoman Michelle Thomas said.
“MyLife” has been launched at one San Francisco school and will slowly roll out at select city schools in the coming months, eventually reaching all public and private schools in the city by January, San Francisco Suicide Prevention spokeswoman Michelle Thomas said.
The program is expected to reach 25,000 teens ages 13 to 17 throughout the city, according to the center.
The text-based program is another avenue for teens uncomfortable to speak with a counselor face-to-face or over the phone, Thomas said.
Beall also presented a resolution to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Briggs, a national trainer for law enforcement officers on suicide prevention.
Assemblymen Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, also made remarks at today’s hearing discussing Assembly Bill 755 that would call on constructors to consider building suicide barriers when building bridges.
Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and prevention advocate gave a testimony on his suicide attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge when he was 19 years old.
Hines recounted his severe hallucinations such as running away from U.S. Postal Service trucks that he believed were threatening to kill him.
Hines said his depression turned to thoughts of suicide.
On Sept. 25, 2000, Hines dropped all his units at City College of San Francisco thinking he would die that day and his counselor did so without asking any questions.
He took a bus towards the Golden Gate Bridge and remembers wanting anyone to ask if he was ok, but nobody did.
The last person he spoke to was a female tourist who asked him to take her photo and thereafter he jumped over the bridge.
“Upon the millisecond of the fall I made the hugest mistake of my life. [...] I only saw tunnel vision and that tunnel was my death,” Hines said.
Hines now tells his story across the country with the hopes of stopping suicides, especially for people dealing with mental illness.
“We all have a purpose and it is all innately positive,” he said.
Jamey Padojino, Bay City News