Pre-thinking:

Kevin Briggs tells us of his experiences as a California highway patrolman in the area of the Golden Gate Bridge, where many have attempted or committed suicide. He gives us clues for dealing with the people in this mental state. Listen to his experience and advice.

Why you should listen:

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark of unparalleled beauty and attracts swarms of visitors every year. Tragically, also among them are hundreds of suicidal men and women.

Who is he:

As a member of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for over twenty-three years, with the majority of those years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge, Sgt. Briggs discovered early that his job required him to take on an unusual role for a police officer: suicide prevention counselor. As a cancer survivor and survivor of multiple heart operations, Briggs’ familiarity with personal struggle bonds him with suicidal men and women. With simple empathy, an instinct for improvisation and a refusal to walk away, Briggs has negotiated several hundred people from suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge., “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.” Sgt. Briggs retired from the CHP in November 2013.

Questions:

  1. Kevin Briggs tells us that many suicidal people see no alternative; how can we avoid giving them our solution?
  1. Discuss his “Pandora’s Box” metaphor. Make up your own metaphor that captures the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness expressed by people contemplating suicide.
  1. Explain what Kevin Briggs meant by, “listening to understand”.
  1. A traditional view of a suicide has the idea that the person was weak in character. Would a better construct be that the person was suffering from mental illness? Agree or disagree and defend your position.
  1. Has the prevalence of suicide changed over the past 50 years? Do some research. In your investigation consider multiple variables, such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and method. Write up your findings and share your results with someone else.
  1. What kind of training should a psychologist or social worker, or teacher get in suicide recognition and intervention?

Making Connections:

This link has many other links to suicide prevention programs:
http://www.kvia.com/news/suicide-prevention-resources/27567212

Making connections with a talk by Anna Bigham: Hidden wounds

The bridge between suicide and life with Kevin Briggs

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