Tag Archives: Inspirational Speaker

Speaker Kevin Hines shares his story of suicide and second chances

Sarah Thurman, Staff Writer

On Thursday, February 22, Kevin Hines came to Wingate to give a lecture titled Cracked Not Broken, The Kevin Hines Story. Kevin Hines was only 19 when he decided that he wanted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge.  This is a jump that 99% of people, do not live from. Kevin was in that 1% that lived.

The lecture began by showing a snippet of Kevin’s film titled ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect.’ Kevin came on stage and introduced himself, then proceeded to explain how he was not there to just tell his story, he was here to inform us by using his story.

Telling a story of a suicide attempt can get very dark, yet when Kevin felt that the mood was shifting he would give a joke that would make the whole audience laugh. Once he saw that the audience was in fact laughing he would go back into the story.

During one of the darkest parts of the story, when Kevin is describing himself jumping off the bridge and into the water, he realized that he didn’t die and that there was a creature swimming around him. He said, “I remember thinking ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I didn’t die off the Golden Gate bridge and now a shark is going to devour me. NO!” The audience mood instantly lightened at the joke.

He went back into describing how this creature was keeping his body afloat and taking him towards a boat. With no idea what was under him, he decided to name the creature “Herbert” and after he began to tell his story publicly, he was contacted and informed that the creature that was under him was a Sea Lion.

Suprisingly the story does not end there, he continues to recount the story of his recovery and how he has gotten to the point he’s at today. He tells of his time spent in psych wards, fixing his relationship with his father, and meeting his wife. He does not just outline the negative parts, but he dives into the positive ones as well.

He ended the lecture by telling the audience that even though he stands here to tell his story that he still struggles everyday with a mental illness, but “I’ve been given the gift of a second chance, and most people in that situation sadly never got to see.”  

Kevin then tied the lecture together with a simple statement and a joke, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that I believe is why we call it the present and if ya’ll don’t believe me Master Oogway from Kung Foo Panda said that.”

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Left to Right- Nya Henderson, Kevin Hines, Aliyah Long. Photo credit: Sarah Thurman

After he finished, he asked the audience to stand and he pulled out his phone and asked us to scream “Be Here Tomorrow” as loud as possible.  After the event Kevin went into the lobby of the Batte Center and met with students. Many people approached him to inform him of the impact of his story and some even pulled him aside to talk privately. Counseling was also on duty if anyone felt the need to talk to someone during or after the event.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, Wingate University offers free confidential counseling to students, you can contact them at counseling@wingate.edu. To learn more about Kevin’s story visit http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Tattered Pieces speaker addresses themes of loss, faith and forgiveness

Leah Joyner, Staff Writer

The Rev. Sharon Risher captured students’ attention with her raw emotion on Sunday morning, sharing how she became an accidental activist when she lost loved ones in the 2015 Charleston shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Risher, a native of Charlotte, N.C., spoke at a lyceum event at the Batte Center.  

“From the moment Rev. Risher started sharing her story, she evoked a spirit of passion that was astonishing. It was evident that she was unequivocally devoted to her beliefs,” said senior Tripp Wright.  

Risher described the struggle she went through finding out about the deaths of her mother, two cousins, and a childhood friend on that horrific night of June 17, 2015. Since the traumatic event, Risher has spoken up about gun laws in the nation and about her process of grieving and forgiving the shooter for his deed. Her touching testimony moved the audience to rethink ways in which to engage with people who look different from them and with the hope of bringing a positive change to the nation.


“Reverend Risher told her story as though it happened yesterday. She talked about being in the courtroom with her family’s murderer as though she had only just stepped out for a moment to tell you what was going on inside. While the terrible tragedy in Charleston did occur only two and a half years ago, she gave me a feeling that she would always tell her story like this. She would always relive that day with her heart on her sleeve, allowing herself to once again feel every feeling she felt the day her family was killed in hatred,” said freshman Karah Fleming.  

In her speech, Risher shared stories about her Christian faith getting her through the tough times in her life. Accompanied by her daughter, Aja, she admitted that it took a long time to forgive the shooter for what he did to her and her family, but she ultimately let go of her anger and gave it to the Lord.

“She didn’t try to tell us that her years of following God made her want to forgive right away. She had to wrestle with God about this time in her life,” Fleming commented. “Though I have yet to face something as difficult as what she was forced to face, her honesty about the battle she had to fight within herself to do God’s will was encouraging.”

 Risher has used her story to touch others on CNN, Time Magazine, BBC Radio and other media outlets. She has been a guest at the White House on several occasions when Barack Obama was president. A former hospital chaplain, Risher now spends her time as an activist and is writing a book.   

The Reverend’s conclusion to her speech sums up her purpose for speaking out to students and the public: “I didn’t ask for this journey I’m on. I would rather not be standing up here sharing this with you, but here I am. I hope you have heard one thing today that you didn’t know before. Something that will stir your heart to do something always for the betterment of yourself, so you can bring someone along who may not look like you or talk like you. We share this country and we must be the change we want to see.”

Edited by: Brea Childs

Pictured above: The Rev. Risher and daughter Aja Risher