60 life-changing minutes
May 11, 2013 10:14 AM Subscribe
posted by drlith (20 comments total)
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Now married and father to two, Kevin Berthia's life has changed dramatically in the 8 years since he climbed over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge to take his own life. He probably would not have had that opportunity had it not been for the dedication of California Highway Patrolman Kevin Briggs, "The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge
". Following the overwhelming response to the short documentary on Briggs' efforts to reach out--sometimes literally--to would-be jumpers, he got the opportunity to meet
the young man whose life he saved in 2005.
Berthia was on hand to present the American Society for Suicide Prevention's Public Service Award
, which Briggs accepted on behalf of the California Highway Patrol.
"Our success for intervening in a suicide attempt is about 80 percent to 90 percent," notes Captain Lisa Locati in the Yahoo documentary video. Adds Briggs, "I have never actually counted a number but it's been numerous people. Maybe 2 a month." Yet over the years, Briggs has only lost one to the water. Briggs' efforts earned him a mention in The New Yorker's 2003 in-depth look at the Golden Gate Bridge and its fatal attraction
Despite fears that successful intervention in a suicide attempt is merely postponing the inevitable, research shows that outcomes like Berthia's are not unusual. "[S]uicidal behavior is crisis-oriented and acute in nature,” observes Richard Seiden in the New Yorker piece. The author of Where Are They Now
, a 1978 study of individuals who were prevented from completing suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge. "If you can get a suicidal person through his crisis—Seiden put the high-risk period at ninety days—chances are extremely good that he won’t kill himself later." (See also the New York Times Magazine's 2008 piece "The Urge to End It All