‘The Ripple Effect’ brings light to veteran suicides


Sofia RositaniReporter

“Suicide: The Ripple Effect” the documentary by Kevin Hines, details how, at the age of 19, Hines attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and became one of the very few that survived after doing so. This experience changed his view on life, and Hines now travels the world as a mental health advocate in order to raise awareness and prevent others from making the same mistake he did.

The documentary was shown for suicide prevention month by Southern’s Counseling Services and Veterans’ Services offices.

After the documentary, Coordinator of Veteran and Military Services Giacomo Mordente, recounted his time as a soldier during the Vietnam era, and his suicide attempt.

He was given a standing ovation, and others shared their struggles and how his story helped them. “My experience as a social worker all these years obviously brings a lot to the table,” Mordente said, “but what finishes it off is my personal experience.”

Director of Counseling Services Nick Pinkerton, said suicide prevention is a “difficult topic,” but still altogether a necessary one.

“I think this movie honestly candidly discusses more important aspects about suicide, while, at the end of it, helping the audience viewing it to remember that the most important parts are hope, connection and healing and support,” he said. “That’s why I think this is a powerful movie, and we are glad to show it.”

According to Pinkerton, data shows more people are experiencing suicidal ideation.

In fact, according to a Harvard Medical School study from 2015, “One-fifth of all students surveyed had thought about suicide, with 9 percent reporting having attempted suicide and nearly 20 percent reporting self-injury” and the rates of suicidal ideation were higher than the last time the survey was administered.

“I think there are some indications that more people are struggling with suicidal thoughts,” Pinkerton said, “so it’s really important to get this message out
again. There is help, you are not alone and support’s available.”

Michelle Lawler, a counselor at Southern, helped at this event, and though she said she did not help with picking the movie, she still acknowledged the impact this documentary can have for many.

“I think, in terms of suicide prevention, it’s a film that is very current and popular throughout the country for [veterans] and all people to start the conversation on suicide prevention,” Lawler said. “[Hines] is one of the very few survivors who are able to live and tell that story, so in his journey following the jump, he decided to promote mental health and suicide prevention around the country and he has dedicated his whole life to that.”

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