Back in 2005, Kevin Berthia was so deep in debt due to medical bills incurred by his infant daughter who was born premature that he decided to take his own life to “end all his problems” – for he could not see how in the world he could ever pay off his $250,000 debt!
He decided to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco California as he lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Since he’s never been on the bridge, he even had to ask a lot of people for directions to get there.
California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs spotted him climbing over the bridge’s view deck. The officer quickly ran towards the deck, thinking it was too late. Thankfully, Berthia was still holding on to the railing but was thinking of leaning back and taking the plunge when Sergeant Briggs got to him.
“I was overwhelmed with everything. It’s like everything that I ever was bothered by, everything that I was ever dealing with came up on one day. And I just felt like a failure. All I gotta do is lean back and everything is done. I’m free of all this pain,” Berthia explained.
“We talked for 92 minutes about everything that I was dealing with. My daughter, her first birthday was the next month. And you made me see that if nothing else, I need to live for her,” he added. “He tried to show me the important things in my life, focusing on my daughter. Hope came back. I put my arms up, and he and another officer helped me up and back over the railings.”
Sergeant Briggs brought him to the hospital – and they haven’t seen each other since. Berthia didn’t want to dwell on that day; although his mom did write the officer a “thank you” note for saving her son.
Ten years later, Berthia has turned his life around. He was tapped by the American Foundation for Suicide to give a now retired Briggs an award for his services as the “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge” who managed to save countless people from jumping off the bridge.
“I didn’t know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react. But when I first saw him, he walked up me and I just shook his hand. It felt like I had known this man my whole life. The nerves weren’t there. It was just two old friends being reunited,” Berthia narrated.
“Now that I have his number, I don’t see us never not being friends. We are of such a different age but it never feels like that. I’ve shared things with Officer Briggs in those 60 minutes that no one else in the world knows. It’s a special bond there.”