Marquette Wire

Former patrolman Kevin Briggs encourages active listening during suicide prevention

Kevin+Briggs.+Photo+by+Nolan+Bollier+%2Fnolan.bollier%40marquette.edu
Kevin Briggs. Photo by Nolan Bollier /nolan.bollier@marquette.edu

Kevin Briggs. Photo by Nolan Bollier /nolan.bollier@marquette.edu

Kevin Briggs. Photo by Nolan Bollier /nolan.bollier@marquette.edu

Dana Warren, General Assignment Reporter

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While he was an officer, retired California highway patrolman Sergeant Kevin Briggs consoled around two people per month who considered suicide by leaping from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Briggs spoke to students on Thursday about his role in preventing over 200 suicides. Marquette Student Government and the Marquette chapter of Active Minds invited Briggs to speak. He urged the audience to talk and listen with depressed or troubled individuals, as opposed to interrogating them about their pasts.

While he was an officer, Briggs patrolled the area of San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge. He said he encountered approximately two individuals per month who considered suicide on the bridge’s ledge.

“I want to find out what is going on in their life, not what went wrong,” Briggs said.

Briggs shared stories about people he talked to while working as part of the highway patrol. He emphasized the importance of getting to know people and actively listening to them, as opposed to asserting ones self too much in the conversation.

The stories included one about a young man who acted differently than most of the individuals he encountered.

“All he wanted to was talk and vent, all he was looking for was for somebody to listen,” Briggs said. “I spoke maybe a few minutes out of 90.”

Before their conversation, the young man jumped over the bridge’s railing and dangled  precariously on the ledge.

“He decided on his own that day to come back over the rail,” Briggs said. “The look in his eyes was amazing.”

The presentation struck a chord with members of audience.

“I think that everyone needs to know how to help someone else out and support them,” said Abbey Cogelja, a sophomore in the College of Nursing and member of Marquette’s chapter of Active Minds. “More people need to get the idea that mental illness is an illness and shouldn’t be treated any differently than a physical illness.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Former patrolman Kevin Briggs encourages active listening during suicide prevention”

  1. Quinn Kelly-Miller on October 6th, 2015 11:03 am

    I’m glad experience patrolling SF will help out with MU students on campus!

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