This now iconic image is of Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs talking to Kevin Berthia on the Golden Gate Bridge who was about to take his own life in 2005. “He had a lot of things going on in his life that were wrong… All he was looking for was somebody to listen to him. Why did it take him coming up to the bridge or someone going to that level to get somebody to listen?” Briggs said.
Briggs had a 90-minute conversation with Berthia, who was 22 at the time, whilst he was standing on the ledge. Briggs ended up speaking for only 3 minutes.
During his 23 years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge Briggs listened to 200 people in Berthia’s position. “They were mostly men.” All but two of the people he spoke to gave themselves a second chance. Berthia was one of them. “I had never dealt with any of the problems in my life, and that morning I was overwhelmed by it all. I had never spoken to anybody about how I felt… Where I come from reputation is everything, so I convinced everyone I was OK. But I was tired and I couldn’t do it anymore. 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.” We all struggle and that doesn’t mean we’re suicidal but keeping the struggle to ourselves can, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, lead to Berthia’s situation. Society’s broken model of what it means to be a man expects us not to talk. That opening up is only for people who are depressed or suicidal. It’s not.
You don’t have to be at your lowest to start talking. Don’t wait to be at or near your breaking point like Berthia for things to change