LAW ENFORCEMENT, GUARDIAN OF THE GOLDEN GATE
SUICIDE PREVENTION KEYNOTE * MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER * LEADERSHIP
Keynote and Suicide Prevention Speaker Kevin Briggs is a former California Highway Patrol Sergeant who worked for more than 20 years on the Golden Gate Bridge, and used his listening skills with more than 200 would-be jumpers to prevent them from dying by suicide.
Kevin Briggs’ story and lived experiences have been featured at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design 2014 Conference as a TEDTalk, Ciudad de Las Ideas (Mexico), Yahoo News, The New Yorker Magazine, Men’s Health Magazine, NPR’s Bob Edwards Radio Show, People Magazine, USA Today, as well as other magazines, newspapers, radio, and podcasts across the world. His first book, Guardian of the Golden Gate: Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair, was released in July 2015.
After his discharge from the Army Infantry, Briggs spent two decades patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. While on patrol, he encountered numerous individuals clinging to life by a thread – individuals who had lost hope and could see no way out of their current situation – ready to jump off the bridge to what they assumed was a sudden death and ending of their pain and hopelessness.
Briggs, through his compassion, gentle voice, eye contact, and his innate ability of “listening to understand” encouraged more than 200 individuals over his career to either not go over the bridge’s rail or come back to solid ground from where they had been standing precariously out on the chord of the bridge and start a new chapter in their life. These challenging, but rewarding efforts earned him the nickname “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.” After a 23-year career with the California Highway Patrol, Briggs retired to dedicate his life to promote mental health awareness across the globe through Pivotal Points, an organization he founded to promote Crisis Management, Suicide Prevention, and Leadership Skills.
Briggs speaks publicly about not having the right kind of professional training to effectively assist persons in crisis when he first began work as a patrol officer. Throughout his career, he reached out to senior officers who had been in the trenches, asking for their guidance – how to approach an individual in crisis, what to say, what not to say, tone of voice, among many other things. He sought various professional training avenues including hostage negotiator training to continue to improve his skills and abilities.
Over time and using all the things he learned, Briggs found a positive way to approach people in crisis, using listening skills he practiced to find the “thread” that would encourage individuals to find hope for tomorrow and allow them to make the decision to live for another day. He is a mental health consumer himself – Briggs suffers from depression related to his highway patrol officer and work leader experiences (including a motorcycle accident in which he was severely injured), as well as losing his grandfather to suicide, and other personal and family experiences.
Today, Briggs is mapping a movement as he speaks publicly about his suicide prevention and crisis encounters with people on the bridge. He shares his “Listening to Understand” skills followed up with key active listening points for anyone to use; his personal triad for healthy living; his RELEASE model to assist anyone in crisis; his crisis plan, and his personal mental health struggles while serving in the Army, as a police officer, as a cancer survivor, as a family member and father, and as a leader and co-worker.
Kevin Briggs, Army
Kevin Briggs TED Talk: The Bridge Between Suicide and Life
Guardian of the Golden Gate by Yahoo
Curator, TED Talk
Your talk was awesome! That email you added late on was incredible. Really breathtaking. And the fact is, you had everyone's rapt attention throughout the talk. I was really struck by your willingness to take a few small tweaks to your already excellent talk. It's rare that someone who's as talented as you as a public speaker is willing to listen like that and be so enjoyable to work with. Many, many thanks for that... and for lighting up our event. I do truly hope and believe that ripples from this talk will lead to more lives being saved. It will be an honor to post it on TED.com.
Creator of Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS)
I am so glad to have finally met you. I have been an admirer from afar for a number of years! I always admire and appreciate learning from anyone "in the trenches" of dealing with suicide risk. I think you embody so many of the common sense notions that I have tried to structure into CAMS: honesty, relationship, making a connection, not accepting a superior/powerful role over a person in pain. After 32 years at this, I rarely meet someone from whom I feel like I have much to learn. But hearing you was an exception to that. I do not mean that in an arrogant know-it-all kind of way, but more as a reflection on how valuable your perspective is to me and the larger field!
AirBNB, Trust and Safety Law Enforcement Investigations Manager
We sought Kevin's expertise and knowledge about supporting people in crisis, based on his outstanding work as a California Highway Patrol Sergeant assigned to the Golden Gate Division. Kevin imparted his knowledge to our Customer Service Team, and the feedback from everyone who attended was very positive. Team members felt more confident handling tough situations, and more supported in their role to help all customers. Kevin was personable, professional, and inspiring to the team, and the information he provided was of great value to us all. If you or your organization get an opportunity to hear Kevin speak about his life- saving work on the CHP, I cannot recommend it enough!
The FIFO Life (Australia)
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your (Skype) presentation yesterday at the First Responders seminar here in Perth (Australia.) I had seen your TEDTalk some time ago but you were even more inspiring on your Skype call with us….You have probably heard about the number of suicides amongst FIFO workers which has prompted a Parliamentary Inquiry. We so need to reach theses guys and challenge the macho culture...its a really tough environment. It was also a joy to hear you talking about some of the key skills as first responder needs...rapport, listening and connection. I have long held the view that the proliferation of theories and models over the last few decades firmly vest power with Psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. so they can continue to claim they are the 'experts'. What matters so much more to the people we work with is whether we care and listen and can be trusted....that is the relationship we build! You clearly have that rare gift!
Harris CO Sheriff Office (Texas)
After hearing you speak at the Texas Association of Hostage Negotiators Conference in Dallas, I wanted to let you know that I followed several suggestions you made to involve myself in the Houston Crisis Intervention group. It is amazing that we are able to offer assistance to those in crisis, before a Law Enforcement intervention is required. Our instructor said that she, too, had heard you speak and was inspired. Thank you.
Minnesota State Patrol
Mr. Briggs’ knowledge and passion regarding mental health resonated with the large audience of police leaders attending the ETI Conference. He discussed the strain the law enforcement profession takes on members and how to effectively deal with such strain. He also discussed several successful intervention techniques he used while dealing with citizens in crisis he encountered while working as a California Highway Patrol near the Golden Gate Bridge. His insight provided conference members with new perspectives surrounding mental health and crisis management.
Consulate General of Mexico,
San Francisco, CA
Sgt. Briggs is one of the most inspirational and amazing persons I have ever met.
I found Kevin Briggs after watching his Ted Talk. I was moved and intrigued by what he had learned on the bridge and his personal circumstances. I knew that he would be a perfect fit to speak to our local community about mental health. Kevin delivered big time for us! He was extremely humble and accommodating to our event. He was speaking to attendees before and after the event and vowed to stick around as long as people had questions or wanted to chat. I was especially moved by how much time he spent with local law enforcement attending our event. The reviews from attendees that night were all positive and I continue to receive thanks for bringing Kevin to town. If you are considering Kevin for your event, don't hesitate. You won't be disappointed!
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. He put himself on a thin beam 220 feet above the Pacific Ocean. The man had just lost his job and felt overwhelmed as a new father. Kevin Berthia wanted to die, and he had come to the world's most effective suicide destination to make that happen.
That's when he met a highway patrolman, a 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 recalls. '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 who have talked with Briggs on the bridge, only two have jumped.
As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, 'I've talked to people from ten minutes to seven hours. I very much despise losing. I do whatever I can to get that person back over the rail. I play to win.' Before his days at the Golden Gate, Briggs spent three years in the Army before being discharged after a cancer diagnosis. He beat cancer and then entered law enforcement as a correctional officer. He was Charles Manson's prison guard, among others, at San Quentin. His own personal story includes heart issues and dealing with divorce and depression in his family. The bulk of Briggs career was with the California State Highway Patrol, including more than two decades with the Marin County 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. He's been called 'a true American hero' by Robert Gebbia, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and 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 5 million times.
More Americans die of suicide than homicide every year. Nine percent of Americans are dealing with depression at any particular time, many of them with major depression that can last a lifetime. Depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans age 15 to 44. These are underappreciated problems in the United States, at least in part, because they're usually hidden and often come with a stigma of shame. In Guardian of the Golden Gate, Briggs shares his experiences with the help of people who credit their lives to him. His inspiring story will help shine a light on a killer that lurks in the darkness and show readers signs to look for and the value of hope. You will gain insight into this steadfast hero that will allow you to see why he's known as the Golden Gate's guardian. Kevin Briggs aims to promote mental illness awareness and ultimately break the stigmas associated with it. By reading this book, you join him in that pursuit. Suicide is preventable. There is hope. There is help.