Kevin Berthia is living each day in gratitude after Sgt. Kevin Briggs talked him back over the ledge of The Golden Gate Bridge in 2005. Kevin Berthia has since become a Suicide Prevention Advocate, encouraging people to talk through their problems rather than think about ending their lives. Kevin believes that depression may be a part of you, but it is not who you are. He lives in Northern California and has since welcomed a third child to the world. Berthiaexplains that the connection between himself and Briggs is more than just a CHP officer and a man who was trying to commit suicide and audience members can now experience their special bond that was forged in those 60 minutes on the bridge.
STOP SUICIDE - SAVE LIVES
Get Informed - Find out exactly what the problem is...and it is much more serious than you think.
Get Inspired - Amazing speakers and their stories of survival to educate & motivate.
Get Help - What to do, where to go & why now is the time to do it.
For some this is your own personal battle...For others, you are on the front line - fighting to save the lives of students, military & our local community.
Here are the key steps:
Understanding & Preventing Suicide:
"The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it's difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that he or she can see no other option.
Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can't see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to committing suicide, but they just can't see one." - Helpguide.org
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain." -David L. Conroy, PhD
College & Youth
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death age 15-24 years old -Center for Disease Control (CDC)
US Active Duty
More deaths by suicide than combat among active duty soldiers. -US Pentagon
22 deaths by suicide each day. -Department of Veteran Affairs
Suicide in America
1 person dies of suicide every 13.3 minutes. -Center for Disease Control (CDC)
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUICIDE
FALSE: People who talk about suicide won't really do it.
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," "I can't see any way out," - no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true - bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Source: SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
No One is Immune
One of the greatest risks for suicide is experiencing depression.
Depression can affect ANYONE at anytime. The rich, poor, every race, every culture, every country, men, women, young, old...
1 in 10 Americans report having depression. -CDC
Depression affects more than 23 million Americans every year. -Depression/Bipolar Support Alliance
An estimated 350 million are depressed globally.
-World Health Organization (WHO)
"Robin Williams' death reflects how pervasive depression is, and how it can affect anyone..."
-Dr. Manpreet Singh, assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine
A First-Responder: Sgt. Kevin Briggs
From Sgt. Briggs TED talk (1.5 million views and counting) - "In a sobering, deeply personal talk Briggs shares stories from those he's spoken - and listened - to standing on the edge of life. He gives a powerful piece of advice to those with loved ones who might be contemplating suicide."
Sgt. Briggs is the 2013 recipient of the Jefferson Award, the Outstanding Officer Award (by ASIS) and the California State Senate Resolution Recipient. He is also known as "The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge" for the countless lives he's saved simply by being there.
"People who come to jump [off the Golden Gate Bridge] don't necessarily want to die,"Sgt. Briggs said, citing years of cold, rainy and fog-filled days when he approaches those who step to the edge of the bridge, looking down.
Sgt. Briggs began his career in 1987 and in 1990, he began his work on the Golden Gate Bridge, a prominent site for those seeking to end their lives. Each month, at least six souls wander to the rail, hoping to end it all.
Responses to Sgt. Kevin Briggs Speaking Events
"This is single-handedly one of the most inspirational, powerful talks I've witnessed. Thank you for this. This is the hope that some feel is lost -- I certainly believe that this man's job saves lives, saves families, and saves hope."
"Thank you for a great presentation today. A great career of saving lives!"
-R. Tucker via Twitter
"Just saw Sgt. Kevin Briggs on Steve Harvey. Thank you sir for all you do. You are a blessing to us all!"
-K. Bliss via Twitter
"Kudos to Kevin Briggs and all others like him for doing such a hard job, trying to give hope where there is only hopelessness. I can't even imagine how hard it would be, and how much strength it would take."
The true story of a military family that lost two sons - one to suicide and one in combat - and devoted their lives to fighting the military's suicide epidemic.
Major General Mark Graham is a decorated two-star officer whose integrity and patriotism inspired his sons, Kevin and Jeff, to pursue military careers of their own.
When Kevin and Jeff die within nine months of one another, Mark and his wife Carol find themselves reeling after the loss of two of their three children. Kevin, a student enrolled in the University of Kentucky's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program committed suicide. Jeff, serving in the Arm as a second lieutenant, died as a result of an IED attack in Iraq.
As Mark & Carol Graham begin to gather their bearings and contemplate a life without their sons, they must also come to terms with the terrible stigma that surrounds suicide in the military.
The Grahams commit themselves to fighting the military's suicide epidemic and making sure that the families of troops are treated with dignity and compassion.
Their efforts put them in direct conflict with the entrenched military bureaucracy that considered mental health problems to be a display of weakness and that refused to acknowledge, until far too late, the severity of the suicide problem.
The Grahams refuse to back down, using the pain and grief from their sons' death to inspire them to fight as they work to change the institution that is the cornerstone of their lives and this country.
The Grahams Today...
Since their boys' deaths, the Grahams have remained an Army family with a mission and purpose to make the world a better place. Although still healing, the Grahams have become advocates for soldiers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide Prevention. They have also done tremendous work serving the families left behind following a loss of a son or daughter to suicide.
Carol Graham speaks regularly to share their message of hope and the couple remain committed to removing the stigma of mental health issues and operate as a force in the suicide prevention movement.
"I'm sad this is our story, " Carol said in a recent interview, "but I just have to believe in what we do with our story - maybe we can help save somebody else's child."
Major General Mark Graham said: "As an Army and as a Nation, we must get in front of suicide, work to prevent it by action, not just figure it out after the fact."
Read more about the Grahams and see video interviews HERE. More information on their book, The Invisible Front is listed below.
"The Invisible Front is the story of how one family tries to set aside their grief and find purpose in almost unimaginable loss.
The Grahams work to change how the Army treats those with PTSD and to erase the stigma that prevents suicidal troops from getting the help they need before making the darkest of choices."
The Grahams story and this look into the military suicide epidemic was penned by author Yochi Dreazen. Dreazen is one of the most respected military journalists in the country, with credentials that include The Wall Street Journal's youngest-ever bureau chief and senior national security correspondent at the National Journal. He is currently the deputy editor for news at Foreign Policy.
"This book begins fast and accelerates, telling an astonishing tale of contemporary America. When you read this book, you will likely come away feeling that General Graham and his wife Carol are American heroes-different types than we normally are told about, but true heroes still."
-Thomas E. Ricks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Fiasco & The Generals
3. Get Help
Getting Help & Supporting Others:
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, so it is essential to get immediate help in the midst of a crisis.
This is a complex subject and while we can't expect the average person to be a trained therapist, there are some signs, skills and resources that can help save lives. Often family and friends are the first to notice changes in someone that might be considering suicide.
Suicide Warning Signs:
Talking About Suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."
Seeking Out Lethal Means
Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with Death
Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No Hope for the Future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
Getting Affairs in Order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't see them again.
Withdrawing from Others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
Sudden Sense of Calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.
When Talking to a Suicidal Person
Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
If the person says things like, "I'm so depressed, I can't go on," ask the question: "Are you having thoughts of suicide?" You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it is OK for them to share their pain with you.
Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: "You have so much to live for," "Your suicide will hurt your family," or "Look on the bright side."
Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussion secret, you may have to break your word.
Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It's not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it's hurting your friend or loved one.
Blame yourself. You can't "fix" someone's depression. Your loved one's happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
211 Call Center Search:
Dial 211 to find local resources for a variety of needs including mental health services.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Helps individuals in suicidal crisis within the United States to contact the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service provider.