Golden Gate Guardian: Meet the cop who has saved over 200 lives by talking them out of jumping off the bridge

Golden Gate Guardian: Meet the cop who has saved over 200 lives by talking them out of jumping off the bridge

Without any training in helping people with mental illnesses, this cop has saved more than 200 people by learning it himself, who needs a hero? You got one.

How many times have you tried jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s possible that you’ve met this man. Most of the heroes these days have forgotten capes, but this one sports a smile and a uniform. Kevin Briggs, a former San Francisco Sergeant holds the credit of averting more than 200 suicide attempts from the Golden Gate Bridge. 

It was only three months after its opening that one case of suicide had already made the news. (Wikimedia Commons)
It was only three months after its opening that one case of suicide had already made the news. (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most iconic landmarks in the US, this landmark is also notorious for being the unfortunate top choice of people who want to end their lives. It has gained a confused reputation among the California crowd, as it has gone on to become on the sites with the highest number of suicides in the United States. Almost 17000 people have plunged to their deaths from this site.

Initially, Briggs didn't have any training in dealing with sufferers of mental illnesses (Youtube)
Initially, Briggs didn't have any training in dealing with sufferers of mental illnesses (Youtube)

Kevin Briggs’ life changed when one such individual, James, jumped off from the bridge right in front him. Briggs recalls the somber experience as a life-changing turn in his life, which made him do what few men have done in their service with pure passion and human touch.

Over the years, there were at least 2 suicides every month at the Golden Gate Bridge (Youtube)
Over the years, there were at least 2 suicides every month at the Golden Gate Bridge (Youtube)

“I know that when someone gets to that level, it’s very, very difficult to bring to get through to them and to get them to come back. But, we have to try.”

Briggs learned more about James’ history, including his struggles with his mental illness. Briggs counts that as a common thread that he witnessed over his years as a highway traffic patrol cop. In his time, he saw many people speculate suicide and his job was to work with them and sort it out and try and get them back.

Briggs trained himself on the basics of mental illnesses (Youtube)
Briggs trained himself on the basics of mental illnesses (Youtube)

However, initially, Briggs lacked much experience with mental illness. His office had not seen the need to train their officers to deal with people struggling with mental illnesses. What could one do?

He trained himself and taught himself the basics of mental illnesses, various stages involved in the illness and how to go about dealing with a person who is thinking of ending their life.

Kevin Berthia went on to become a successful lawyer (Youtube)
Kevin Berthia went on to become a successful lawyer (Youtube)

His dedication and passion brought results. In an iconic photo in 2005, Briggs was photographed talking Kevin Berthia off the bridge ledge. Berthia was one of the many individuals who was saved by Briggs. As he began gaining more experience with saving people from jumping off, he asked them about his methods and what they felt about it – which included what worked and what did not work – so his help would have more positive impact them.

“It took a lot of courage to go over the rail,” Briggs recalls. “Personally, I think it takes even more courage to come back."

Berthia went on give Ted Talks on how to listen (Youtube)
Berthia went on give Ted Talks on how to listen (Youtube)

While Briggs lacked the academic understanding of the mental illnesses, he wasn’t unknown to the concept of suicide. He shares that he lost his grandfather to suicide as a child. Briggs has always bee n vary of the fact that his family shares history with mental illnesses and he could be predisposed to it, but his own diagnosis didn’t fail to shock him.

His routine physical checkup showed that he was diagnosed with depression. Most of us would have thought his as an irony and something tragic, but this new knowledge only propelled him to find ways to help others with even greater ardor.

He's been relentless in his bid to help people with mental illnesses who end up taking their life (Youtube)
He's been relentless in his bid to help people with mental illnesses who end up taking their life (Youtube)

“If I am experiencing these things –if I can help somebody else through a very, very dark time, I’m gonna. I’m gonna do my darnedest best to try and do that.” 

There is no stopping this man, even after his retirement, he walks strident on his journey to help others. He started giving speeches throughout the nation- which includes a powerful Ted Talk – on how to develop the needed courage and skills to help others who are suffering from suicidal thoughts.

He was diagnosed with depression (Youtube)
He was diagnosed with depression (Youtube)

The people who have been saved by Briggs write him gratitude letters, thanking him for his work and his influence in changing their lives for the better. He’s gained numerous new friends through his work around the world and he still continues to strive to make an impact.

“I want to reach as many people as I can, to show them that there is a way not only to survive, but to thrive."

Disclaimer: We do not promote suicide in any manner through this article, but wish to throw light upon this guardian angel who is saving lives. 

If you are worried about your mental health or having suicidal thoughts, please seek help by contacting a professional therapist/counselor/or local social worker. Or talk to a trusted friend/family.

Crisis help: https://www.crisistextline.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
📞 800-273-TALK (8255)
📞 TTY: 800-799-4TTY (4889)

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