7th annual mental health expo will feature suicide survivor Kevin Hines


Kevin Hines, who survived after attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge, will be the keynote speaker for the 7th Annual Mental Health Expo.

Kaitlyn Richardson

The 7th annual Mental Health Expo will be held virtually on Sept. 21 at Iowa State. This is the second year that the event will be held virtually.

“Our keynote speaker will be live even though we are not in person,” Geri Derner, part of the Mental Health Expo’s organizing committee said. “We hope to return to the ISU MU Great Hall next year where we have hosted nearly 500 participants in past years.”

The expo as a whole has a goal of covering a variety of issues people face.

“The Expo is a community and university event providing information, resources and practical, everyday tools to better understand and manage mental health issues including trauma, stress and substance abuse,” Derner said.

As part of the expo, suicide prevention activist Kevin Hines will be a key note speaker with his presentation “Be Here Tomorrow: The Ripple Effect of Suicide.” The event description on the Lecture Series sight for Iowa State briefly discusses what empowers Hines to give these presentations.

“Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (19 years of age), he attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge,” the site reads. “He is one of only thirty-four to survive the fall and the only one to regain full physical mobility. The fall would break his body, but not his spirit.”

Derner also discussed why this event is viewed as so important.

“According to the National Institute for Mental Health and Centers for Disease Control, there are over 43 million adults (18%) in the United States with a mental health disorder,” Derner said. “Similarly, 13% of children ages 8 to 15 have a diagnosable mental disorder.”

“Yet, nearly half of the individuals with mental health issues do not receive counseling or other treatment,” Derner said. “Likely reasons for this include stigma, lack of accurate information about mental health, lack of availability of resources and/or lack of knowledge about how to access local help.”

Ames Police Mental Health Liaison and Advocate Julie Saxton, backs up this statement as Ames Police is one of the many organizations that assists in coordinating this event.

“This event is not only informative, motivational and important, but much needed given covid and the emotional state of our nation and world,” Saxton said.

The keynote presentation will begin at 6 p.m. and can be accessed through this link, but Derner assures the expo content will remain uploaded for a few weeks after the event if you are unable to attend it live.