The Golden Gate Bridge has always been famous. It was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1937. Since then, it has become an iconic landmark of San Francisco and, tragically, one of the most popular places in the world to commit suicide. Few know this better than Kevin Briggs, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol who has talked hundreds of people out of jumping.
Over 1,500 people have jumped from the bridge in its 75-year history, making it one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. A recent spike has only made the number more daunting.
But in a short video titled “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge,” Yahoo! Viewfinder explored the lesser-told story of the countless lives saved by suicide prevention experts. In the six-minute video, Yahoo! profiled CHP Sergeant Kevin Briggs who has saved hundreds from leaping over the railing in his 26-year career.
8-years ago, CHP Officer Kevin Briggs talked this young man out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
That young man’s name is Kevin Berthia. Today he is 30 years old and married with 2 children.
This week he presented Officer Briggs with an award on behalf of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The story of how Officer Briggs talked Kevin down is remarkable.
The picture you see is real and not edited, Kevin was about to take one step to jump and end his life. But for more than hour, Officer Briggs listened to Kevin pour his heart out about his troubles and told him, “I know you think things are bad, but they can get better.”
Kevin says, “Officer Briggs never made me feel guilty for the situation I was in. He made feel like, I understand why you are here, but there are alternatives. That an individual who doesn’t even know me could listen to me and hear my story and show me compassion gave me another reason maybe to try again”
Kevin is just one of countless lives Officer Briggs has saved over his 23 year career. Officer Briggs, who was promoted to Sergeant five years ago, is humble about what he does. He says, ”they make the decision, when they step back over that rail it takes a tremendous amount of courage”
On Wednesday, May 8th, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is recognizing the CHP with a public service award in suicide prevention in New York. The honor will be accepted by Briggs, who colleagues say has a gift for connecting with those thinking of killing themselves.
The occasion will reunite him with Kevin Berthia, who is presenting the award. The two men last saw each other at San Francisco General Hospital, where Berthia was brought for treatment following his March 11, 2005, suicide attempt.
“I believe that their sight is just very narrow at that point, and they see the only way out is by jumping over the bridge” Officer Briggs
Thank you Sergeant Briggs. You’re a hero!
Photo: The San Francisco Chronicle, John Storey
Sources: Julie Haener KTVU, The Huffington Post
Considering Suicide? Need help? In the U.S., Call Us 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Visit the website: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
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