On Feb. 3, Kevin Briggs, known as the “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge,” shared his experience patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge as both an officer and a sergeant of the California Highway Patrol. He talked about his personal physical and mental health challenges to inspire conversation about mental health and suicide prevention. Briggs has helped save more than 200 suicidal individuals over his 23-year career.
He provided his strategies for negotiating with those considering suicide during the event — organized by Kenyon Student-Athlete Advisory Council (KSAAC), Kenyon Athletics, Fitness and Recreation, and the Cox Health and Counseling Center — to students gathered in Rosse Hall.
Briggs shared tips on how to listen, communicate and work with people in crisis by recognizing their needs and engaging in conversations with them. He also noted the importance of empathy, support and encouragement when negotiating with suicidal individuals. Briggs’s speech offered hope to people who are facing dark times and suggestions for those who want to support their loved ones who are struggling.
KSAAC organized this event with the goal of improving the mental health and wellness environment for Kenyon’s student athletes, as the combined stress of practices, academics and social life can potentially bring about mental health issues.
Patrick Coughlin ’20, the vice president of KSAAC, was one of the students who helped organize the event.
“I think there are incidents from other schools where they have struggled with athletes in particular — we thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to bring someone [to Kenyon] to teach student athletes … how to deal with these very important issues as soon as possible,” he said.
Community advisors, as part of their training, were required to attend Briggs’ talk. Although they have already received training on similar topics, Jenny Tie ’21, a community advisor in McBride Residential Hall, said that it is necessary to keep having conversations about mental health and wellness. “It is important so that, as community advisors, we can keep on getting reminded that these issues exist and get continuous training,” she said.
Briggs noted that connections with others are important when facing mental health issues. “The [Golden Gate] bridge not only connects Marin and San Francisco, but also connects people together,” Briggs said.
“That connection, that bridge that we make, is something that each and every one of us should strive to do. Suicide is preventable. There is help. There is hope.”
Kenyon Health and Counseling Center: 740-427-5643
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255