Man Who Was Saved from Taking His Own Life 16 Years Ago Now Helps People Battling Mental Health Issues
“Wow! Shows how one person can truly make a difference in someone’s life, but they didn’t stop there, and continue to help so many!”
Kevin Berthia’s life was saved by an officer identified as Kevin Briggs who prevented him from jumping off a bridge Sixteen years ago when Berthia was trying to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, he heard Officer Briggs’ compassionate voice The young man who is still good friends with Officer Briggs, now retired, has a foundation that is helping people that are battling mental health issues Your support matters. Sustain independent journalism in Nigeria – contribute to Legit.ng. Kevin Berthia, a man whose life was saved 16 years ago when he tried committing suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, is now helping people that are suffering from mental health issues. According to Berthia who was 22 at the time, it was Officer Kevin Briggs’ compassionate voice that helped him open up, stopping him from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
God Bless both men. Both were given journey’s through one man’s wanting to end his own life and another man, A GOOD COPS, reaching out and changing 2 peoples lives forever.
In a report by @goodnews_movement, Officer Briggs said he hadn’t experienced anything like that, little did he know that he would end up saving some 200 others, becoming known as a “guardian” of the bridge.
The officer has now retired but he’s friends with Berthia, who currently has four children and runs Kevin Berthia Organization, which is helping others with mental health battles. source
Officer, man he saved from Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempt to speak at event in Memphis
Nearly 15 years after Kevin Briggs helped Kevin Berthia stop his suicide attempt at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the two will share their story with a Memphis audience.
Briggs and Berthia are the keynote speakers Tuesday morning at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s annual Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network Mental Health Breakfast. As the two detail their encounter on the bridge, Briggs said he hopes the audience will learn how to talk openly about their emotional health and help someone who may be suffering.
“We bring a lot of emotion into this for a reason, as both Kevin (Berthia) and I suffer from a mental illness,” said Briggs, a retired highway patrol officer who had experience deescalating suicide attempts on the bridge.
Berthia said he felt overwhelmed that day as all the past pains he buried resurfaced all at once. To help him, Briggs said he focused on “whatever ray of hope or sunshine” was in Berthia’s life: his child.
“That would be No. 1 in most people’s minds,” Briggs said. “So I thought, ‘Let me focus on this and see where it goes.’ That’s what eventually brought him back.”
Allison White, supervisor of Methodist’s Living Well Network, said Briggs and Berthia’s message will help inform people how to help those who are struggling and direct them to the right resources. The Living Well Network, a free service, connects people with the right behavioral health provider for their needs.
The network saw referrals increase in 2019 as medical providers talk more about behavioral health with their patients and people openly discuss mental health on social media and through other channels, White said.
“If it’s under the behavioral health umbrella, it’s hard when you’re struggling to know where to turn for help,” she said. “We do that for them.”
Officer is reunited with suicidal man he talked down from from the Golden Gate Bridge eight years ago
… to find he’s now happily married with two kids
Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005
California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs spent 60 life-changing minutes convincing Berthia to climb back over the rail
Pair were reunited as Berthia presented Briggs with an award at the emotional American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony earlier this month
A San Francisco man who almost took his life eight years ago by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge has been reunited with the hero who saved his life.
Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005, when he heard the voice of California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs calling out to him from above.
Over 60 life-changing minutes, Briggs managed to convince Berthia, as he has done with hundreds of suicidal men and women, to climb back over the rail and give life another shot. Since that significant day Berthia hasn’t looked back and is now happily married with two children.
Reunited: Kevin Briggs, (center) shakes the hand of Kevin Berthia (left), the officer who talked him down from throwing himself off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2005
Savior: Kevin Berthia, right, was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005, when California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs, left, talked him off the ledge and back to safety
And this week he was able to thank the man who made all that possible. The pair reunited as part of an emotional ceremony honoring Briggs and other members of the CHP known as the Guardians of the Golden Gate Bridge, whose job it is to gently talk people like Berthia down from the structure.
‘It was phenomenal,’ Berthia, 30, told Yahoo News about the reunion at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony.
‘I didn’t know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react,’ he said. ‘But when I first saw him, he walked up me and I just shook his hand. It felt like I had known this man my whole life. The nerves weren’t there. It was just two old friends being reunited.’
As he presented Briggs with the award, Bertha explained how grateful he was for Briggs’ help and urged others to seek help, insisting they could too get better and life a fulfilled life.
‘I didn’t want him to try and stop me but now I’m glad he did,’ he told the crowd. ‘All I can say is that I am truly grateful. You gave me an opportunity to live.’
Saving lives: During his 20 years patrolling the bridge Briggs has managed to talk may despondent people out of taking the fatal fall
The pair were reconnected after a Yahoo documentary in December 2012 chronicled the work of Briggs’ team, centering on Berthia’s case.
A resounding image of the man clinging to the bridge as Briggs spoke to him provoked an outpouring of support from the Bay area community.
After he received the award, Briggs said he was ‘very humbled, honored and happy’ to have the recognition for his team’s hard work.
‘I (accept this award) on behalf of the California Highway Patrol and police officers across this country who strive to do their best each and every time they receive a suicide call.
‘During my career I’ve encountered numerous suicide attempts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Of those attempts, I’ve only lost one person. It’s something you never forget.
‘Kevin found the courage in himself that day to climb back over the rail, thus beginning a new stage in his life. Here, standing before us, is the reason we do what we do.’
Reunited: Berthia and Briggs, pictured, were reconnected this month after a Yahoo documentary in December 2012 chronicled the work of Briggs’ team, centering on Berthia’s case
Briggs said, since Yahoo’s video, he had been contacted to get his life rights for a movie and other police departments have called to speak to him about the CHP’s work.
‘It’s all been very humbling, to be honest,’ he said.
Briggs, a cancer survivor and army veteran, first met with Berthia’s mother and then the two men and their families met privately in a small room before the ceremony began.
‘I wanted to meet him again,’ Briggs told Yahoo, acknowledging that it was ‘very unusual’ for him to have contact with any of the men and women whose lives he’s saved over the years.
‘I just said, “It’s great to see you.” He said, “My Mom is your No. 1 fan.” It was really neat.’
Berthia said the bond the pair forged during those 60 significant minutes will see them being friends for life.
‘Now that I have his number, I don’t see us never not being friends,’ he told Yahoo. ‘We are of such a different age but it never feels like that. I’ve shared things with Officer Briggs in those 60 minutes that no one else in the world knows. It’s a special bond there.’
He decided to go to the Golden Gate Bridge to end his life, but what happened on the bridge that day changed his life forever.
“I had just become new father, just recently lost my job,” Berthia explained. “So many things. All the things I didn’t handle in my life end up coming up on that day…and I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I was tired of living a lie, keeping this mask on pretending like everything was fine. Everything wasn’t okay and I just got overwhelmed and I didn’t see a way out.”
Berthia grew up in Oakland and had never been to the iconic span.
He didn’t even know how to get there and had to ask for directions.
“I was banking on whoever I asked for directions they’d say ‘Why do you want to go? No one ever asked,” he told KCBS Radio on the Golden Gate Bridge last month, as heard on KCBS Radio’s “Bay Current” on Monday. “I considered it as a done deal and I saw it as a sign.”
California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs, who became known as the “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge,” spotted Berthia just as he leapt over the railing. “If I had 50-foot hands to reach out and grab him. That’s what I felt like,” Briggs said. “I yelled and he reached out and caught that rail, swung around and hit it, But I didn’t know that he reached out and caught that rail. I thought he was gone.”
What happened next was captured in this haunting photo, later seen around the world.
For 92 minutes, they talked.
“You have to understand something,” Berthia said. “I never opened my eyes once. I never knew he was a cop and I never knew he was white. So this whole conversation we had…I never knew anything about him. If I would have opened my eyes conversation, the conversation would have been a little different. Where I’m from – Oakland, California – how I looked at law enforcement at the time was completely different from how I look at law enforcement now.”
Eventually, Briggs and another officer helped Berthia back over the railing and took him to the hospital.
Eight years later, the two reconnected when Berthia was asked to give Briggs a public service award in New York. That’s when Berthia believes Officer Briggs saved his life again.
“By 2013 I was up to 22 failed suicide attempts,” Berthia added.
He soon realized he wasn’t alone and that telling his story on stage helped other people.
Two men were forever bonded over one act at the Golden Gate Bridge.. Photo credit Matt Pitman/KCBS Radio
“My whole life, I felt alone,” he said. “I’m an African American man from an African American community who doesn’t talk about mental health or suicide prevention.”
Briggs retired from the CHP in 2013 after responding to hundreds of suicide calls on the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s now a mental health and suicide prevention speaker. “The look in people’s eyes when I’d look at them over the rail I’d see some hope. But they didn’t know how and (were) tired of living in agony. That’s what drove me to do this job bet data-uri=”www.audacy.com/_components/paragraph/instances/cky83047s0024387ll7mgk5xf@published” data-editable=”text”>Berthia and Briggs might come from two different backgrounds but say they were brought together on the bridge for a reason. source
we all owe it to one another to be kind to one another and help one another. good job good cop
That’s me in the picture: Kevin Berthia on the Golden Gate bridge
‘I was convinced I was going to hurl myself off but his voice made me stop and grab the railings. That’s what you see’
I had never been to the Golden Gate bridge before that day. I didn’t even know how to get there – I had to ask for directions.
I had never dealt with any of the problems in my life, and that morning I was overwhelmed by it all. I was adopted at six months and my adoptive parents divorced when I was 12. I had just become a father; my daughter was born prematurely and was in an incubator for eight weeks. I blamed myself.
I had never spoken to anybody about how I felt and I never accepted I had depression. Where I come from – Oakland, California – reputation is everything, so I convinced everyone I was OK. But I was tired and I couldn’t do it any more.
I parked and walked towards the bridge. As I jumped over the railings I heard someone say: “Hey, wait a minute.” I was convinced I was going to end my life , but at the last moment his voice made me stop and grab the railings. That’s what you see in the picture – me standing on the ledge. I now know that was Officer Briggs (centre, leaning on the railings). He snapped me back to reality. I was on that ledge for 92 minutes, and for 89 of those I just talked. I got everything out and he listened without judging.
He tried to show me the important things in my life, focusing on my daughter. Hope came back. I put my arms up, and he and another officer helped me up and back over the railings.
There were reporters everywhere, so they covered my face and took me to San Francisco general hospital. I was exhausted. The next thing, I was at Fremont Medical Centre, where I stayed for a week.
Afterwards I went back to my old habit of burying things, and never talked about the bridge. When I discovered that the photograph was on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, that shut me down. It just so happened that they were voting on whether to install a suicide prevention barrier the same day, so the photograph became iconic; but I wasn’t ready to deal with it.
The first time I faced the picture was eight years later, in May 2013, when I was asked to present an award to Officer Briggs at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s lifesavers dinner in New York. That was the first time I had looked him in the eye – on the bridge I had my head down. At that dinner I saw the impact of the photograph on everyone in the room and realised my story could help people.
News reports from that event got it wrong. They said I was happy and married with two children. Reporters are always after the happily-ever-after ending. I had two children, yes, but I wasn’t married, nor was I happy. I had had a lot of highs and lows in those intervening eight years. But that night was the first time I actually started to feel OK. So, really, Officer Briggs saved my life twice.
I have since become a suicide prevention advocate, encouraging people to talk through their problems rather than think about ending their lives. I now know that depression is a part of me but not who I am. I have three children and a new partner with whom I will spend the rest of my life. Now is the happily ever after.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.