Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Are U Okay?

Hope we all learn something from this..............
Catch of the Day
'Are you okay?'
by John Fischer
If you should see someone alone and crying on a bus — or anywhere else, for that matter — you might want to consider asking that person what's wrong. That simple act of concern may be enough to save a life. It would have been enough to keep John Kevin Hines from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. As it turned out, he lived to tell about it anyway.

Halfway through his 4-second, 220-foot plunge into 50° water with his 19-year-old life flashing before him, Hines found himself thinking, "What did I just do? I don't want to die." His youth and excellent physical condition were what helped him be one of the few to survive the popular suicide leap — that, and a newfound determination to live.

A struggling bi-polar mental patient, he had been in the severe grip of depression a number of times, as he has since his jump, but his survival has given him a new sense of purpose in his life: to help prevent others from trying what he calls "a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
"I was supposed to die," he said. "I wanted to die. Every day that jump prompts me to ask, 'Who am I? Why am I?'" For John Kevin, having a purpose in life is what keeps him alive now.

A most revealing part of his story is what we would do well to reflect upon today. He relates that on the morning of his attempt, he kissed his father good-by and boarded a bus to the bridge, crying most of the way. On the bus, he told himself that if anyone asked him what was wrong, he wouldn't jump.

No one did.

He had only one human encounter on that fateful trip, and it was on the bridge itself just prior to jumping. After 40 minutes at the railing, crying and wrestling with his demons, a tourist stopped and asked if he would take her picture. He did, and as she walked off he thought, "That's it. I'm going. Nobody cares."

It's so easy to say someone else's problems are "none of my business," but nothing could be more wrong. We are all each other's business. Just a simple acknowledgment of someone else's pain was all Mr. Hines bargained for with his life. He wouldn't have even asked someone to solve anything. Just care enough to ask: "Are you okay?"

Quotes are taken from "A Jump Survivor's Bridge to Activism, "The Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2005, p. A1.
[Adapted from an earlier Purpose Driven Life daily reading by John Fischer.]

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