- Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005
- California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs spent 60 life-changing minutes convincing Berthia to climb back over the rail
- Pair were reunited as Berthia presented Briggs with an award at the emotional American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony earlier this month
It was exactly 10 years ago that a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle took this picture.
That’s Kevin Berthia standing on the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge.
He was 22 years old.
He was depressed.
He was out of a job.
He was a scared father of a little girl.
And he was just moments away from ending his life.
“As I jumped over the railings I heard someone say:
‘Hey, wait a minute.’
I was convinced I was going to end my life, but at the last moment his voice made me stop and grab the railings.”
The voice was CHP Sgt. Kevin Briggs:
“I approached (Kevin) very slowly and asked his permission to allow me to speak with him.”
And what happened next was remarkable.
Sgt. Briggs didn’t talk.
He just listened.
Sgt. Briggs says:
“He just talked to me, just kept talking and talking and talking.
And I listened most of the time as he spoke.
I think that’s what people need, someone who will listen to them.”
Kevin talked to Sgt. Briggs for about an hour and a half.
Among other things they spoke about Kevin’s young daughter.
“He kind of made me understand that I need to be here for her.
If nothing else I need to live for her.
And that was one of the main reasons that I came back over and gave it another shot.”
It hasn’t all been easy for Kevin.
He says depression is tough:
“I struggle every day.
There’s no magic potion or solution.”
Sgt. Briggs and Kevin didn’t see each other again for 8 years.
They were both invited to an event in New York City.
Kevin was presenting a Lifesavers Award to Sgt. Briggs.
And that was when Kevin finally confronted his attempted suicide.
“That was the first time I had ever talked about it in my life, to probably anybody.
And I did it in front of a room of about 250 people.
I don’t know how I did it.
It was just something that just needed to be done.
The more that I accept who I am, and know that (the attempted suicide) doesn’t define me, (the more) it helps me move on.”
Kevin is now the father of three kids.
He recently found a new job.
And he’s engaged.
“The biggest thing I had to do was take a step and that’s the hardest thing anybody had to do is to take the first step.”
He and Sgt. Briggs talk often these days.
That third picture is the two of them on the bridge recently.
Sgt Briggs says:
“We are going to stay friends forever.
We’re brothers so to speak.”
I spoke to Kevin on the phone about a month ago.
He was so passionate.
So full of life.
I’m not trying to say everything is perfect for him.
But I just got the feeling from talking to him that this is a man who understands that he has been given a second chance in life.
Tonight on the Ten O’Clock News we aired a piece about Kevin and Sgt. Briggs.
Amber Lee and photographer Elliot Mendoza put it together.
It was really well done.
Honestly, it’s one thing to read about what happened on the bridge.
It’s another thing to see and hear Kevin and Sgt. Briggs talking about it.
It gave me the chills to watch it.
Here’s a link to the story:
It’s about 4 minutes long.
I promise that if you take the time to watch it you won’t be disappointed.
And remember this:
Your life matters.
Just like Kevin’s life matters.
And he’s got three beautiful kids who remind him of that every day.