The wind was gusting around the Golden Gate Bridge on a March afternoon in 2005 when a 22-year-old man climbed the railing, convinced he and this world would be better without each other.
The man had just lost his job, and felt overwhelmed as a new father. He put himself on a thin beam 220 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Kevin Berthia wanted to die, and he had come to the world's most common suicide destination to make that happen. That's when he met a highway patrolman, and former Army soldier and San Quentin State Prison guard named Kevin Briggs.
"I know you must be in tremendous pain," Briggs said over the railing. "If you want to talk, I'm here to listen."
The next 90 minutes saved Berthia's life.
"I opened up about stuff I'd never dealt with before," he says now. "Kevin gave me a reason to try again."
Berthia is one of hundreds of Americans to come within inches of ending their lives with a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, only to meet Briggs and decide to give life another chance. Out of those hundreds to talk with Briggs on the bridge, only two have jumped.
Briggs has been called "a true American hero" by Robert Gebbia, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He is among the country's most active speakers in promoting crisis management, leadership skills, and suicide intervention and prevention worldwide. His TED Talk has been viewed well over a million times, and he'll share his experiences in this book with the help of people who credit their lives to him.
Briggs spent three years in the Army before being discharged after a cancer diagnosis. He beat cancer, then entered law enforcement as a correctional officer. He was Charles Manson's prison guard, among others, at San Quentin.
The bulk of Briggs' career was with the California State Highway Patrol, including more than two decades with the Marin office. There he worked predominately on the Golden Gate Bridge, which every month produces four to six suicidal subjects, multiple traffic collisions and dozens of other law enforcement calls. After 9-11, security was heightened even more.
Briggs had no training with suicide prevention or mental illness before taking the job, but has since become such a respected expert that he's helped train the FBI and several major corporations. His own personal story includes surviving cancer, heart issues, and dealing with divorce and depression in his family.
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About the Author
Kevin Briggs is one of the country's most active advocates for suicide awareness and prevention. Briggs has been featured in The New Yorker, Men's Health and People magazines as well as several national radio and television shows. His TED talk has been seen well over a million times.
Briggs regularly travels the country helping businesses learn crisis management, and people better learn the signs of suicidal risk as well as the best steps to help prevent a tragedy that still takes the life of an American every 13 minutes. He is the father of two boys, and lives in the Bay Area.
Sam Mellinger has worked at The Kansas City Star since 2000, the last five years as a sports columnist. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Kansas and Missouri Press Associations, and Best American Sports Writing. He lives in Kansas City with his wife Katie and son Samuel.
Table of ContentsDedication
Foreword by Meg Hutchinson
Chapter 1 I Work The Bridge
Chapter 2 Where I Come From
Chapter 3 Speed Bumps
Chapter 4 My Time at San Quentin
Chapter 5 The Dark Side of The Bridge
Chapter 6 Out of Nowhere
Chapter 7 "It will get the job done."
Chapter 8 On The Bridge
Chapter 9 A Dog Story
Chapter 10 A Life Saved, Twice
Chapter 11 A Struggle Toward Healing
Chapter 12 Turning Point
Chapter 13 My Next Assignment
Chapter 14 Too Close to Home
Chapter 15 Rock Bottom Recovery
Chapter 16 A Lost Soul, A Wonderful Life
Chapter 17 Stories from the Road
Chapter 18 A Survivor's Mission
Chapter 19 The Fight for Awareness
Chapter 20 Hope
The RELEASE Model
The Quality of Life Triad
Crisis Safety Plan
Afterword by KevinBerthia
"Gatekeeper" Song Lyrics
About the Authors
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a well-written book about an iconic American setting, the Golden Gate Bridge, and about Kevin Briggs, a highway patrolman who affected many people during his years on the bridge. The book provides many insights into mental illness and suicide prevention and reinforces the idea that we can all make a difference.