More than twice a month, on average, those who’ve lost all hope come to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, climb over the railing and, tragically, plunge 220 feet into the Pacific Ocean to end their pain. Over 1,500 people have jumped from the bridge in its 75-year history, making it one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. A recent spike has only made the number more daunting.
Few know this better than Kevin Briggs, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol. Briggs talked hundreds of people out of committing suicide off the bridge, preventing them from jumping into the freezing cold water below. That number would be higher, if not for California Highway PatrolSgt. Kevin Briggs, nicknamed the “Guardian of the Golden Gate.” Since 1994, through sheer compassion and expert listening skills, Sgt. Briggs has helped convince more than 200 people on the precipice of death not to take their lives (so far, he’s only lost one).
“People who come to jump don’t necessarily want to die,” explains Briggs, 50, who calmly introduces himself just a few feet away to the despondent person, often standing for hours in bone-chilling wind or heavy fog.
“Sgt. Briggs not only saves lives, he inspires us all with his compassion and dedication,” says Robert Gebbia, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention director. “He’s a true American hero.”