The bridge between suicide and life | Kevin Briggs

The bridge between suicide and life | Kevin Briggs


I recently retired from the California Highway Patrol after 23 years of service. The majority of those 23 years was spent patrolling the southern end of Marin County, which includes the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is an iconic structure, known worldwide for its beautiful views of San Francisco, the Pacific Ocean, and its inspiring architecture. Unfortunately, it is also a magnet for suicide, being one of the most utilized sites in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. Joseph Strauss, chief engineer
in charge of building the bridge, was quoted as saying, “The bridge is practically suicide-proof. Suicide from the bridge is neither practical nor probable.” But since its opening, over 1,600 people have leapt to their death from that bridge. Some believe that traveling between the two towers will lead you to another dimension — this bridge has been romanticized as such — that the fall from that frees you from all your worries and grief, and the waters below will cleanse your soul. But let me tell you what actually occurs when the bridge is used as a means of suicide. After a free fall of four to five seconds, the body strikes the water at about 75 miles an hour. That impact shatters bones, some of which then puncture vital organs. Most die on impact. Those that don’t generally flail in the water helplessly, and then drown. I don’t think that those who contemplate this method of suicide realize how grisly a death that they will face. This is the cord. Except for around the two towers, there is 32 inches of steel paralleling the bridge. This is where most folks stand before taking their lives. I can tell you from experience that once the person is on that cord, and at their darkest time, it is very difficult to bring them back. I took this photo last year as this young woman spoke to an officer contemplating her life. I want to tell you very happily that we were successful that day in getting her back over the rail. When I first began working on the bridge, we had no formal training. You struggled to funnel your
way through these calls. This was not only a disservice to those contemplating suicide, but to the officers as well. We’ve come a long, long way since then. Now, veteran officers and psychologists train new officers. This is Jason Garber. I met Jason on July 22 of last year when I get received a call of a possible suicidal subject sitting on the cord near midspan. I responded, and when I arrived, I observed Jason speaking to a Golden Gate Bridge officer. Jason was just 32 years old and had flown out here from New Jersey. As a matter of fact, he had flown out here on two other occasions from New Jersey to attempt suicide on this bridge. After about an hour of speaking with Jason, he asked us if we knew the story of Pandora’s box. Recalling your Greek mythology, Zeus created Pandora, and sent her down to Earth with a box, and told her, “Never, ever open that box.” Well one day, curiosity got the better of Pandora, and she did open the box. Out flew plagues, sorrows, and all sorts of evils against man. The only good thing in the box was hope. Jason then asked us, “What happens when you open the box and hope isn’t there?” He paused a few moments, leaned to his right, and was gone. This kind, intelligent young man from New Jersey had just committed suicide. I spoke with Jason’s parents that evening, and I suppose that, when I was speaking with them, that I didn’t sound as if I was doing very well, because that very next day, their family rabbi called to check on me. Jason’s parents had asked him to do so. The collateral damage of suicide affects so many people. I pose these questions to you: What would you do if your family member, friend or loved one was suicidal? What would you say? Would you know what to say? In my experience, it’s not just the talking that you do, but the listening. Listen to understand. Don’t argue, blame, or tell the person you know how they feel, because you probably don’t. By just being there, you may just be the turning point that they need. If you think someone is suicidal, don’t be afraid to confront
them and ask the question. One way of asking them the question is like this: “Others in similar circumstances have thought about ending their life; have you had these thoughts?” Confronting the person head-on may just save their life and
be the turning point for them. Some other signs to look for: hopelessness, believing that things are terrible and never going to get better; helplessness, believing that there is nothing that you can do about it; recent social withdrawal; and a loss of interest in life. I came up with this talk just a couple of days ago, and I received an email from a lady that I’d like to read you her letter. She lost her son on January 19 of this year, and she wrote this me this email just a couple of days ago, and it’s with her permission and blessing that I read this to you. “Hi, Kevin. I imagine you’re at the TED Conference. That must be quite the experience to be there. I’m thinking I should go walk
the bridge this weekend. Just wanted to drop you a note. Hope you get the word out to many people and they go home talking about it to their friends who tell their friends, etc. I’m still pretty numb, but noticing more moments of really realizing Mike isn’t coming home. Mike was driving from Petaluma to San Francisco to watch the 49ers game with his father on January 19. He never made it there. I called Petaluma police and reported him missing that evening. The next morning, two officers came to my home and reported that Mike’s car was down at the bridge. A witness had observed him jumping off the bridge at 1:58 p.m. the previous day. Thanks so much for standing up for those who may be only temporarily too weak to stand for themselves. Who hasn’t been low before without suffering from a true mental illness? It shouldn’t be so easy to end it. My prayers are with you for your fight. The GGB, Golden Gate Bridge, is supposed to be a passage across our beautiful bay, not a graveyard. Good luck this week. Vicky.” I can’t imagine the courage it takes for her to go down to that bridge and walk the path that her son took that day, and also the courage just to carry on. I’d like to introduce you to a man I refer to as hope and courage. On March 11 of 2005, I responded to a radio call of a possible suicidal subject on the bridge sidewalk near the north tower. I rode my motorcycle down the sidewalk and observed this man, Kevin Berthia, standing on the sidewalk. When he saw me, he immediately traversed that pedestrian rail, and stood on that small pipe which goes around the tower. For the next hour and a half, I listened as Kevin spoke about his depression and hopelessness. Kevin decided on his own that day to come back over that rail and give life another chance. When Kevin came back over, I congratulated him. “This is a new beginning, a new life.” But I asked him, “What was it that made you come back and give hope and life another chance?” And you know what he told me? He said, “You listened. You let me speak, and you just listened.” Shortly after this incident, I received a letter from Kevin’s mother, and I have that letter with me, and I’d like to read it to you. “Dear Mr. Briggs, Nothing will erase the events of March 11, but you are one of the reasons Kevin is still with us. I truly believe Kevin was crying out for help. He has been diagnosed with a mental illness for which he has been properly medicated. I adopted Kevin when he was only six months old, completely unaware of any hereditary traits, but, thank God, now we know. Kevin is straight, as he says. We truly thank God for you. Sincerely indebted to you, Narvella Berthia.” And on the bottom she writes, “P.S. When I visited San Francisco
General Hospital that evening, you were listed as the patient. Boy, did I have to straighten that one out.” Today, Kevin is a loving father and contributing member of society. He speaks openly about the events that day and his depression in the hopes that his story will inspire others. Suicide is not just something
I’ve encountered on the job. It’s personal. My grandfather committed suicide by poisoning. That act, although ending his own pain, robbed me from ever getting to know him. This is what suicide does. For most suicidal folks, or those contemplating suicide, they wouldn’t think of hurting another person. They just want their own pain to end. Typically, this is accomplished in just three ways: sleep, drugs or alcohol, or death. In my career, I’ve responded to and been involved in hundreds of mental illness and suicide calls around the bridge. Of those incidents I’ve been directly involved with, I’ve only lost two, but that’s two too many. One was Jason. The other was a man I spoke to for about an hour. During that time, he shook my hand on three occasions. On that final handshake, he looked at me, and he said, “Kevin, I’m sorry, but I have to go.” And he leapt. Horrible, absolutely horrible. I do want to tell you, though, the vast majority of folks that we do get to contact on that bridge do not commit suicide. Additionally, that very few who have jumped off the bridge and lived and can talk about it, that one to two percent, most of those folks have said that the second that they let go of that rail, they knew that they had made a mistake and they wanted to live. I tell people, the bridge not only connects Marin to San Francisco, but people together also. That connection, or bridge that we make, is something that each and every one of us should strive to do. Suicide is preventable. There is help. There is hope. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The bridge between suicide and life | Kevin Briggs

  • Sometimes life just becomes so bland and repetitive that you just want to escape.

    Your life goes up. Then down. Up n down. Up n down.
    Over and over again.
    You find love, they leave you.
    You find a decent job, they fire you.
    You find really good friends, they slowly exclude you.

    Life just has no meaning anymore.

  • 1 person lived after taking the plunge. I will be taking my life due to a kidney disease and I refuse to force my friends and family watch me wither away and suffer until the end. So what's considered too be more moral in this situation. Let them watch you suffer? My friends and family already know my intentions. Some understand, others can't understand, because they are not in my shoes. They can only guess. I refuse to put my people through this like I watched my 3 dad's and my bio mom go through this before they passed. My bio dad, 1 step dad and my dad who ended up adopting me. No parent should have too bury their child but, no kid should have to bury more than 1 set of parents let alone 3

  • Wait till someone murders your entire family. I lost my precious Aunt to suicide. I don't want to be here any longer either.

  • Listen I love what Chris rock said. Once you leave the house its every man or woman for themselves. no one gives a damn and its not personnel. Its just that we are busy on our lives. So do what you gotta do and dont give a damn. leave go to a new place and start fresh . get Currypressed and dramonpressed and obamapressed and not depressed.

  • Am here because I feel doing the same . My ex broke up with me ignored me humiliated me pressed 5 charges on me and I have to get over a breakup and deal with court also I spent all my money on lawyers and now I cannot complete my studies. I litlerry lost everything because of her and all she does is ignore me

  • Rest In Peace to these souls. I hope you are in peace now it’s hard to live in this world sometimes to make you feel this is the way you need to end it. I am a suicide survivor

  • It’s so strange the pressure of pain and suicide it seems like my brain is screaming yes but my body is saying no as if all these thoughts are being downloaded and my body is the memory card.

  • So many people are feeling something so awful inside and all they want is the evidence. They want others to know how they were feeling. They want someone to care

  • People always think they are so smart and super psychic and know and understand people …when they never experienced the pain other have

  • When you exist, they don't care if you are hungry, sad, poor, depression but if you die they will come with tears, sometimes they pray for you…
    Well in the ends its doesn't even matter

  • I've been there. I know the pain & hopelessness. I also know that God , Jesus loves me loves you. You have a purpose! You are loved. People will fail you. Life will kick you in the gut. But Jesus died that You might have eternal life. God bless you.

  • The only reason I'm still alive is because I can't even imagine what it would be like for my family to lose someone

    At the same time I don't think they would care

  • What pisses me off is when people say suicide is selfish.

    I say wanting to prolong someomes life who is suffering just because you will miss them is pretty fucking selfish

    You have the right to let go
    It's okay to give up
    don't do it on a whim it's a permanent thing

    I've thought about suicide every day since I was 8 told over and over that it gets better, it never did

    At 20 I made a five year pact that if I was still suffering at 25 I would peacefully end my life

    I'm 24 now, with 8 months to go, I'm spending 6 months making my last ditch effort to improve my life. And if it's not working I'm going to spend my final 2 months preparing getting my affairs in order and doing the things I want to do before I go

    Fight it if you can
    Improve your life if you can
    But if it just doesn't improve
    Don't let anyone tell you you are selfish to let go..

  • 2 of my friends used to be suicidal because theyve been through a lot and i was always there for them and they are still alive to this day

  • you just want the hurt to go away
    the hole to fill
    the void to disappear
    the sadness to make sense
    my tears could put out the Amazon fires
    they stay away
    I guess I don’t blame them
    I would too

    Text 741741 HELP
    Someone will text you back
    They will listen

  • My Brother took his Life 10 days ago. 🙁 So mad,confused,sad,so much emotions. I don't know what to do now. Im NUMB,I'm at a stand still RIPMark. Why bud,Why 🙁

  • When i cry i honestly feel a bit happy inside because of where im at right now, it feels like im never gonna find someone and aslong as im crying i know i can still feel

  • People talk a lot about the Pandora box thing ( I have depression myself) but for some reason I don't care or give me any strong emotions because it wasn't me who jumped is and i have noticed the same thing with my own family members I just don't care about their problems anymore and wouldn't care if someone in my family would get hurt in any way is there something wrong with me ( I wasn't like this before I had depression)

  • Hey, random person who's scrolling through the comments!!!
    My name is Kloie and let me tell you something. I'm 14, I've been cutting myself since I was 12. I wanted to die when I was 10, finally found a way, and that leads to 6 psychiatric hospitals. I'm not asking for your pity, I don't need it. I'm asking that you not be too quick to judge the girl who wears hoddies when its 90º out, the boy who leaves school at 2 o'clock every Tuesday, and most importantly the person who trusted you enough to tell you they are sick. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Severe Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attack Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, OCD, ADHD, Social Anxiety, and Separation Anxiety. I want to ask you to please offer help to someone who doesn't look happy. If your depressed friend suddenly starts acting happy, talk to them, it's a sign they are going to kill themselves. Understand that mental illnesses keep you home from work/school just as much as the flu. So please keep fighting, I know what you're going through my snapchat is asl4downs. If you ever need anyone, text me.

  • I don't understand suicidal people and I won't pretend to. I will say I have fought some ailments that have brought around thoughts that not being here…may be easier than fighting the good fight. These are just fleeting thoughts. I don't think I could do it unless I was a complete invalid. Then it would, most likely, be too late to do it myself. So, from a physical perspective and physical pain, I sort of get it. However, from those who simply don't want to exist, I'll never understand. That is mental illness, you should seek help, and take every advantage of medical science. Many say they don't want to die and they don't want to live…they just want to cease existing. I always wondered what those who jumped, swallowed pills, etc thought after they pulled that proverbial trigger. This speaker said most of them wanted to live. Do suicidal people even contemplate the notion that they can't change their mind and if they do, doesn't that show they possess the rationale to seek help?

  • Suicide is ending a pain that you theorize as being permanent, but by ending that, you just enabled permanent pain to someone else.

  • I saw this comment on another, rather non related video: “It’s crazy how the mind can be a place of happiness and imagination, but it can also be the hardest prison to escape from” I tell myself those words everyday and it’s what keeps me real with myself

  • I'm a product of rape and also a childhood sexual abuse survivor. I sometimes wonder why we are born to suffer. I hear that It shouldn't define me but my brain is damaged and as much as they say to stay hopeful and have faith I at times feel eternally damaged.

  • I feel like this has nothing to do with this vídeo but idk it just connects to the story in my heart so I got my dog when she was 2 we were about to give up because no dog really connected with us (btw I love all animals) so we were about to leave when we saw her her name was venus she was so nice and adorable we had to get her and so we did when we got her she was soooo scared and timid and I felt bad I wanted her to feel part of our family so I decided to change her name to something else that wouldnt remind her of her past we named her hope I love her with all of my heart and now shes 6 about to be 7 shes grown up so much and weve grown up together I hope are fun adventures never end HAPPY early birthday to my bestfriend hope😘

  • You people think that you are helping others by talking them out from suicide,you are not helping them you are helping your own continence, you have no idea how tough is to come to suicide decision , it is not easy and it is even harder to understand until you come in same situation , and then all becomes so obvious ….

  • Hard feeling this way. Friends post the suicide hotline and that they’d always have an open door for someone who is low and then turn around and hurt someone so deep.

  • It was hard for me fighting depression on my own. I almost started romanticizing death. Here's my fight with depression as an African youth https://medium.com/@rainermbongo/depression-and-romanticizing-suicide-cbf925d8aa5a

  • I don't get why people choose the deaths that let you regret your desison I personally would just shoot myself
    but I don't have the guts to do it rn

    not to sound depressing

  • i think suicidal/depressed people (like myself) should surround ourselves with others suffering from the same struggles, being around like minded people who know exactly how it feels might bring us comfort and understanding for each other, i hope and encourage all of us suffering to take part helping each other out, Maybe have our Own support groups where we can talk and listen to each other, or even stage open group activities for people like us struggling and try to have a good time in the process, Maybe make some new friends, and Help each other find Positive Coping Mechanism's …

  • Those that feel hopeless and alone, know that I am praying for you. I have been where you are. Please believe me when I say, you are in your sadness now but it will pass. Please, wait. When the trouble is over, you'll see. Just wait.

  • ive attempted suicide on two occasions, there is little you can do beyond physical restraint when someone is dead set on ending their life, im still not happy, im only being kept alive because of medication im being forced to take, i know the moment i stop taking them i will be right back to where i was, my future is very very limited, i was supposed to be dead 2 years ago, ive been in limbo since, i have no adpirations or drive or anything towards the future, i just want to stop existing and have everyone forget about me, unfortunately, this isnt going to happen, and im going to have to live the rest of my meaningless life trapped behind 4 differently colored pills, i dont need your pity person who is reading this, thats the last thing i want, just make sure you do everything in your power to make sure no one else becomes me.

  • Thanks for ur video I have hung myself only for my mother cut me down I'd be dead and most of my friends have committed suicide I found my friend hanging it's very hard ppl say it's the easy way out but it's far from the truth 💙

  • Feeling suicidal, depressed or just need to talk, we’re here to listen, just text SUPPORT to 258258 from anywhere in Canada or visit dcontario.org and click on Chat Now. Trained Responders are available from 2pm to 2am EST 7 days a week.

  • I was in a dark time nearly a year ago. I am Pansexual, in the closet, and had just recently gotten back from a trip to visit family in Brazil. Walking around town with my peers, I realized, in my absence they had made it a habit, yet again, to say vulgar and homophobic things. I felt depressed, I thought, “Do I have ANY value to them? Has everything I’ve said about common decency flown over their heads?” The homophobia went SO far, I slipped into a depression, not even accepting myself. There was a light there for me… I never learned her name, but I managed to make a friend online. SexyAvacado007. Her personality matches her username exactly. She was the funniest, sweetest, and often, kindest person I had ever known. Eventually she became like my sister, I told her everything, and she told me everything. One day, she told me she’d lost a friend to suicide, I tried cheering her up, a few weeks later, it happened again, and, finally, just over half a year ago now, it happened again. She seemed to be getting better, I thought, maybe what I had been telling her was helping. I had let down my biological sister once when my father had molested her, I would not let Avacado down too. Following that day, I haven’t heard from her, mutual friends haven’t, I couldn’t reach her on any media. I think she’s dead. I think she left our world because it killed anything that was different, because it HATED her and her friends and myself for being queer. What do I do now? An older brother, with a complex about protecting others… what do I do, having failed even her…

  • Sorry to be cheesy,but I felt to say this poem I made about my struggles of my times with wanting to just get away from my sufferings of my life(becuz I struggle with bad anxiety and depression) and to anyone that may relate..hopefully it helps someone that is willing to read this:

    Don't believe the damn devil's lies,
    For he wants you to die

    Becuz he knows for a fact that
    God has a purpose for your life

    So the devil tries his best
    To keep you in the darkness

    So it seems as if there's
    No hope,No purpose

    "..that nobody would care.."
    "..that your such a dissapointment.."

    But best believe,
    That's just the devil speaking,

    Constantly whispering
    These suicidal thoughts in your ear

    Hoping you would fall for it
    To keep death in your mind near

    Til it consumes you
    That it has become soo loud
    And is all you can hear

    Making you contemplate
    About all the possible ways
    To just disappear..

    But fight back! and have No fear

    Shout the power of God's name!
    And shout it Loud and Clear!

    [Please stay strong my people,and dont let the devil win,there is a reason why the devil wants you to lose..trust in God,for he is your strength,protector and comforter..love you guys and God bless..❤❤❤]

  • So what DO you do IF somebody tries to murder you & plant it as Suicide??? I dont think THE People that jumped from wall trade center commited Suicide they just Ran out of options. Many of the suicides are just based on fear. Fear of failure,nightmares etc. Thats on of THE scenarios that can occure during a psychosis. You might get a feeling somebody Will capture you & cut of penis for example. When you got just two options a life without your penis or Suicide. And why should a Guy look at THE American Super Bowl half time entertainment show IF he not has a penis between His legs???? THE scenarios they play are just based on you only have two bad chooises.

  • when everything is meaningless in life, can't survive and can't die, hanging in the middle of two is most difficult .

  • You know, if a person is under some kind of threat they have some type defense. May only be screaming or running, but some type defense. A person taking their life has no defenses left. None, zero. I know this to be true.

  • This world is all screwed up due to fools and liars and psychopaths who have slaughtered thousands of humans for centuries…

    This world is now the appitamy of the seven deadly sins or laws…

    Don't beware the seven deadly sins, be aware of that's how this existence is…

    Raised on lies and illusions…

  • The most powerful description i heard was this in relation to the feeling of deep depression and the pain that it can bring.
    # I felt that i was in a reverse Nightmare that began when i woke.
    All my waking life was pain.
    Their can be another state one can get to with deep depression that to me is even worse thats the state where you dont want to live and you couldnt be bothered to kill yourself either.
    You feel like your the walking dead empty and hollow inside.
    But their is help out their if you look for it be strong.
    So hang in their and get help if necessary.

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  • People always think depressed people are "just going through a rough time" or "just at a low point, but things will get better". They don't understand it's a never-ending struggle, for many, many years, not just a phase or a low point. & they see things not getting better over, & over, & over, if anything get worse, or at least stay the same. They've spent just as many hours thinking of wishing they could not exist anymore, as they do about the people they love & don't want to hurt or let down, too. They are the reason they have stuck it out as long as they did.

  • Hopelessness and helplessness exactly how I'm feeling and I've noticed in the last couple months and I'm pushing everybody away from me I've stopped talking to my friends just been keeping to myself and if I'm going to be honest I really don't have no interest in life anymore and the fucked-up part is when I start thinking about killing myself I actually start feeling happy

  • Been depressed since 4 first suside attempt at 10 crying because I did not want my family to miss me but I did not want to be her or there or any where I wished I was never born. Tryed to hang my self. My sister found me she is 18 months older then me. Next at 12 I just wanted the pain to end my body always hurt and still dose, I was being sexually abused. I tryed to over dose. Last attempt at 15 I just could not handle it any more my body hurt all the time and being raped daily wad just too much. Hug my self from a fan in my room with an 3 inch rope I hung there swinging for 3 minutes lags swimming vision blurring then snap I fell to the ground as the rope broke. Later found out I was pregnant. Since then I have never tryed again but I have felt numb. I don't want to be here or there or any where. I have fibromyalgia and distamia but even the meds don't help. I feel like I'm not so post to be here. Like I am a stranger looking in throw. A foggy window. I will not try to take my life again but I don't think. I will ever be happy.

  • I tryed to OD months ago and failed I wolk up and cried cuz i had almost left my son….. that being said i wish every single day that i was dead i hate this fucking reality and almost everything about it even the way my mind works
    I cried out for help so many times and even told people that I had attempted suicide…. nobody really care unless it affects them fully …. it's not just the depression its the loneliness and the inner-pain that's what gets most people

  • People are so selfish, to even mention the "collateral damage" of suicide proves you know nothing about it. Also pain does not matter at that point in someones mind, it doesnt matter how hard they hit the water or ground, nothing can triumph the pain in their mind.

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