Intro by Annabelle Gardner, Communications Coordinator
Since its construction in 1937, thousands of people have ended their lives by jumping off San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Only 34 have survived the fall. Kevin Hines, our guest blogger today, is one of them.
Since his suicide attempt when he was 19 years old, Kevin Hines has become one of the most prominent suicide awareness and prevention activists in the U.S. Through presentations and his memoir “Cracked, Not Broken,” Kevin’s message of striving to live “mentally well” in the face of mental illness has reached and inspired millions.
One of those millions was Mark Leddy, lead singer of a band called ‘Friends of Emmet’ from Dublin, Ireland. Mark had just finished writing the instrumentals for a new song when he saw the documentary The Bridge. The film was how Mark first learned about Kevin, his struggles with mental illness, and his incredible story of survival. The Irish rocker immediately sat down to write the lyrics for ‘Coming Apart’, a tribute to Kevin Hines and the lead track to ‘Friends of Emmet’s’ latest album ‘State of Mind’.
Since then, Kevin and Mark have become good friends. They both work to help prevent suicide using their own unique talents and experiences. In today’s guest blog Kevin shares more about meeting the band and how music can be a potent tool in suicide prevention and awareness for young people throughout the world.
‘Friends of Emmet’ – Suicide Prevention Through Music
By Kevin Hines
Hailing from Dublin Ireland, ‘Friends of Emmet’ is a rock band. Each of their songs is based on a true story. The lead singer Marks Leddy’s presence always fills a room. Just by looking at him, you can see he’s been through a lot. He was born in Ireland. He followed his heart finding rock music.
He loves to speak fondly of his family, “They are the center of my universe,” he states smiling. At the age of twenty-six he left Ireland and has been on and off with a variation of the band he now leads since 1994. The band was first known as “the Cage.” That band fell apart but some 20 years later, through a healing process, they very much became a band in recovery.
Mark admitted that “The music industry
Keith says, “[It’s] our mission to help folks [and] to prevent suicide and bullying with our music.” Listening to their album, it’s obvious they are cause worthy. Causes that clearly influenced their songs ‘Coming Apart’ and ‘Hero’. I asked them why suicide prevention was so important to them? Mark told me that he once pulled a rope down from rafters and hid it from his friend who was planning to die by suicide. His friend lived with him for a week, got on his feet, and eventually got better.
Just like the song ‘Coming Apart’ on FOE’s album says, Mark knew “it’s time for a life to be saved.” Mark made a comment to me that “it’s a miracle Kevin that you’re sitting here today; [this] was drawn out by a hand of god.” Keith solidified his point, “We have an opportunity to do some good, how extensive that is we have no idea but we’re here.” Keith feels that if the band can prevent [even] one family from having to go through the pain of suicide, then that is their purpose.
Friends of Emmet were a huge part of Ireland & the UK’s YANA (You Are Never Alone) anti-bullying and prevention campaign in 2013. Keith noted that suicides in Ireland, among teenage men that overuse alcohol, is very prevalent. “Young males look up to bands in Ireland, and if [the bands] say it’s not cool, young men will listen to the message and hopefully stay alive,” he said.
Keith also told me “No one is alone, and through music we can reach young people around the world in seconds, downloaded straight to their ear buds. The goal is to get [this issue] out into the open. Open to a place where no-one is not ashamed to say I have depression and suicidal thoughts, but I am treating them.”
Our blog is focusing on suicide prevention and awareness throughout the month of September in honor of National Suicide Prevention Month. Our goals are to share a range of perspectives and promote community engagement around this issue. Last week we featured a blog by The Trevor Project ! Read the Post Here.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.