This Hero Wears a Police Uniform Instead of a Cape
San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate bridge that serves as a landmark over the whole city. While most people see the bridge as a large monument or a commute to work, others see it in a more morbid way. A means of escape from life to jump to their deaths. The landmark has one of the highest sites in the US for people taking their own life. More than 1,600 people have leaped to their deaths off of the bridge.
While not everyone can be saved, former San Fran Sergeant Kevin Briggs has talked over 200 down from the edge.
The Moment That Changed Everything
Out of the over 1,600 people that have jumped, one of those people was James. James jumped right in front of Briggs which left a mark on Briggs for the rest of his life. After seeing James jump, Briggs dove into learning about James’ life. He learned about his struggles with mental illness and ultimately saw a pattern between James and other people that had jumped in the past.
As a patrol traffic cop, Briggs saw a lot of people contemplate suicide and his job was to talk them out of it. The truth was that even though this was his job, he didn’t have a lot of experience with mental illness and how to treat it. After James jumped, Briggs started researching how to work with those struggling with mental illness. His office didn’t provide any training so he took the matter into his own hands.
In 2005, his devotion to preventing mental illness was demonstrated when he what photographed talking Kevin Berthia off the bridge ledge. “It takes a lot of courage to go over that rail but even more to come back,” Briggs says.
Even though Briggs didn’t know a lot about suicide, he was still a victim to the impact of losing someone that way. When he was a child he lost his grandfather to suicide. Because of that, he was aware that mental illness ran in his family. But his own diagnoses still came as a surprise.
Briggs was diagnosed with depression when he went to see his doctor for a normal checkup. This diagnoses only made Briggs want to help those struggling even more.
Now retired, Briggs still does as much as he can to address mental illness around America. His most known post-retirement work is a TED talk that addresses mental illness. Specifically, the TED talk confronts how to get the courage to help those who are struggling with mental illness.
Briggs still receives letters from people who he has influenced thanking him for the positive impact he had on their lives.