Ihsan Hines of Southwest Philadelphia


Our goal is to encourage faith, hope, and love. 

Ihsan Hines turned to faith, hope, and love as he and his family survived the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide. On August 31, 2007, Ihsan’s brother, Atif, took his life with a gun he purchased the very same day. “I got a text message that said ‘I love you and I’m sorry.’ I thought he sent it to me by mistake,” recounted Hines who reflected on how no one anticipated his brother’s abrupt departure. “There was a note left in his apartment,” he later added; however, the contents of his brother’s writings remained private during the interview.

Atif Hines was described as artistic and entrepreneurial. A graduate of the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Atif was a painter and all-around designer. He and his friends had a clothing company named Donation which featured one-of-a-kind fabric paintings.  His designs were gaining momentum around the city.

Atif was also remembered as someone who loved children. His daughter, who is now 14, was only 3 when her father died. “I tell her how much her father loved her,” said Ihsan who tries to keep his brother’s memory alive through his niece. Both brothers were elated to have started families during this period. Ihsan and Atif, who  were raised mainly by their single mother, had solid upbringings, filled with love and faith. “We were always in church,” quipped Ihsan of his childhood, “{overall} we had good lives.”

Ihsan remembered getting a call from his mother who stood outside Atif’s Yeadon, PA apartment. He also remembered going to the hospital. “After that, I just went numb. I remember going numb,” said Ihsan. The days that followed were busy and difficult. “There’s the trauma our family felt… and then the business of planning a funeral…” disclosed Ihsan as he carefully remembered this painful moment.  Atif died on a busy holiday weekend and three days before Ihsan’s birthday. As many well-meaning family and friends tried to offer Ihsan brief moments of levity, Ihsan continued to withdraw. All he wanted was for his brother to be alive again.

Years passed and Ihsan began to talk about his family’s experience with suicide. Through music, writing, and spoken word, Ihsan, whose stage name is “Purpose,” explored his own mental health and bouts of depression. As he continued to engage with others on the topic of mental health and suicide awareness, My Brother’s Keeper was born. “There’s a stigma around Black suicide. {At the conferences} there aren’t many Black people present,” reported Ihsan. His burgeoning platform tries to open this dialogue specifically within minority communities.

Since the inception of My Brother’s Keeper, Ihsan has been participating in forums, conferences, and community outreach initiatives. Before the remodeling of Philadelphia’s LOVE Park, Ihsan hosted a free, week-long concert to raise awareness for suicide. “I look forward bringing the concert back. We have it on the week of my brother’s death,” he said while planning his future. Ihsan also looks forward to making My Brother’s Keeper an established 501c3 organization. The goal is to have that done by September 3, Ihsan’s milestone birthday. He will be turning 40.

For more information about Ihsan Hines and My Brother’s Keeper, go to Facebook.com/MBKCares. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @MBKCares.