‘A smile may puncture the lethal bubble of isolation and aloneness that often precedes suicide’.
Whenever you want to look great and competent, reduce your stress or improve your marriage, or whenever you want to tap into a superpower that will help you and everyone around you live a longer, healthier, happier life, smile.
The power of smile is immense.
Let me tell you two stories.
“If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”
It’s the 1970s. A 30-something man makes his way across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s passed by pedestrians and cyclists, and steps around tourists taking pictures of Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the channel of water below that runs between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He gazes up at the reddish-orange towers soaring above, and then climbs over the bridge’s four-foot safety railing. He steps out onto a 32-inch wide beam known as “the chord,” pauses, takes one last long look out at the bay, and then jumps. His body plummets 220 feet and violently hits the water at 75 mph. The impact breaks his ribs, snaps his vertebrae, and pulverizes his internal organs and brain. The Coast Guard soon arrives to recover his limp, lifeless body.
When the medical examiner later located and searched the jumper’s sparse apartment, he found a note the man had written and left on his bureau. It read:
“I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”
Now, imagine the situation; just a smile might save a life on that day.
I believe, a smile can be a good medicine to pacify the soar in the heart. A smile can inspire us. A smile can bring a lot of positive changes.
“Jump now,” said the voice in Kevin Hines’s head. “And I did. I was compelled to die.”
This is the story of Mr. John Kevin Hines. In the Year 2000, Kevin attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Mr. Hines was struggling with a severe bipolar disorder that emerged during his adolescence and worsened over time. Mr. Hines was overwhelmed by paranoid delusions and command auditory hallucinations demanding that he kill himself. Unable to function, he withdrew from college and immediately took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. Like many people about to commit suicide, he was ambivalent about dying. He tarried at the bridge railing for about 40 minutes, trying to decide whether to go through with his plan to jump.
A number of people walked by him, oblivious to his anguish, unaware of his life-and-death struggle. A foreign tourist did stop and talk with Mr. Hines. She asked him to take her picture, which he did. As she walked away, he felt more than ever that “Nobody really cares.”
Hines leaped over a rail on the Golden Gate Bridge in September of 2000 and began a freefall that would reach 75 miles per hour on impact.
Interestingly, the moment his fingers left the railing, he changed his mind. He felt instant regret. He remembered thinking,
“I want to live. Why am I doing this?”
Unfortunately, it was too late. Hines fell about 240 feet in just four seconds. He crashed feet first into the waters below, crushing spinal vertebrae and breaking an ankle.
But he survived, miraculously. Severely injured, Mr. Hines was kept afloat by a sea lion until rescuers arrived.
He is one of the less than 1% who survive a jump from the bridge since 2000.
Kevin now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness & the ability to survive pain with true resilience. At the 2006 APA (American Psychological Association) annual meeting, sponsored by the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California, Mr. John Kelvin Hines shared his story.
‘Are you okay?’
Mr. Hines told that “If someone had smiled and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I know I would have begged them to help me. I would have told them everything and asked for help. I would not have jumped. I just was unable to ask for help myself.”
Mr. Hines was asked that if someone had smiled at him when he was on the bridge, given the severity of his mental illness, would it have prevented his suicide attempt? He answered, “Yes, a smile would have most definitely helped in my case. If the smile is genuine and caring, and it looks like the person is approachable, that person could have such an impact on a suicidal person at the moment of desperation. They could well save a life.”
Yeah, you are reading it right. A smile can save a life.
Learn to smile because it is much more powerful than you think. Your smile can save a life and change a life for ever.