Kevin Briggs

Benefitting American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Sergeant Kevin Briggs is known by many as the “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.” An army veteran with no formal suicide prevention training, Kevin Briggs dissuaded more than 200 people from jumping off the bridge over his 23 years with the California Highway Patrol. With a gentle voice and compassionate lens on the world, Kevin shares his experiences working with people who are in tremendous pain and how his innate ability of “listening to understand” has been his greatest tool in encouraging people to come back over the rail onto solid ground. Retired, Briggs is now dedicating his life to promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention across the globe.

In Today’s Episode

  • After losing his mother to cancer, Kevin joins the military and is himself diagnosed with testicular cancer. After surgery and chemotherapy, Kevin pushed himself to find a career where he could help others

  • Kevin became a corrections officer at San Quentin State Prison. At one time, he was assigned to the area where Charles Mason was held!

  • Kevin starts working for the California Highway Patrol, and is assigned to the very cold, very windy, Golden Gate Bridge

  • Kevin encounters 4-6 cases per month of people actively suicidal, and talks with them until they come back over the rail, saving over 200 lives in 23 years

  • Kevin shares his own struggles having gone through a divorce and personal battles with depression

  • The power of listening

Wise Words

  • “Life is frail, and it can be taken from you pretty quick.”

  • “By looking in people’s faces, you could see the tragedy that’s been going on with them, most of the time for quite a long time.”

  • (on losing two lives) “For me, and I think for any other officer working up there, who may witness something like this, it does not go away. That trauma is there forever. There are ways to help out with that, through therapy, through eye movement desensitization, and some different things, which I’ve tried. Also, on top of that is, if you were the one speaking to that individual, you think, what could I have done differently? What could I have done better? I feel like a little piece of me has died when that individual goes down.”

  • “So much of this is just listening to folks, and not try to fill them with, ‘You’re going to be okay. Everything’s going to be fine.’ I don’t do that. I don’t think that’s appropriate or right, because we don’t know if things are going to be all right and fine, but we do know that they can make it through that day and have at least another chance.”

  • “This is about winning, but it’s not winning for me. It’s winning for them.”

  • “How many times, when someone is speaking to us, when they’re speaking to us, we’re already forming our answer or our question to them? They’re talking about a good story, and we want to one-up them, or tell them a similar story, looking them straight in the eye, right in the face and just telling them, “Wow, really?  Is that right?” Little things that we can say, that lets them know that we’re listening. They appreciate that so much.”

  • “I don’t think I saved anybody.  I think I was there for a very, very dark time, and helped you through it is more how I looked at it.  I think they saved themselves.”

  • “We’re losing over 47,000 a year, just in this country alone, to suicide.”

  • “Then folks who don’t understand it, that they think it’s a selfish act, it is not a selfish act.  These folks are in so much pain, the last thing they want to do is hurt someone else. I’ve spoken to many, many people who are actively suicidal.  Not one has said that they want to hurt other people. They just want their pain to end.”