Book Title: Guardian of the Golden Gate : Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair
Author: Kristi Kanel
Format: Hardback | 304 pages
Publication Date: 31 Jul 2015
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.