Sergeant Kevin Briggs is the founder and CEO of Pivotal Points. Kevin is a retired highway patrol sergeant who spent many years patrolling the Golden Gate bridge. He encountered numerous individuals clinging to life by a thread. These individuals had lost hope and couldn’t see a way out of their current situation.
They were ready to jump off the bridge to end their pain and hopelessness. One of the people Kevin Briggs saved was Kevin Berthia, a previous guest on the Mitlin Money Mindset™. Throughout his career, Briggs’ compassion, gentle voice, eye contact, and innate ability to listen encouraged more than 200 individuals not to jump.
Kevin earned the nickname, “Guardian of the Golden Gate.” Briggs retired early and has dedicated his life to promoting mental health awareness across the world through his organization, Pivotal Points. He trains people in suicide prevention, de-escalation, and negotiation techniques. Listen in for some great takeaways about how to listen to understand and Kevin’s impact on the world.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Learn more about Kevin Briggs and why he founded Pivotal Points [3:33]
- How his experience saving Kevin Berthia’s life impacted him [5:54]
- How training for first responders has evolved over time [8:00]
- How family members reaching out to Kevin has impacted him [12:17]
- Why Kevin cares so strongly about suicide prevention [13:41]
- What Kevin wants people to know about suicide prevention [15:11]
- How to identify if someone is struggling with suicidal ideation [16:06]
- Kevin shares why it’s so powerful to “listen to understand” [21:41]
- What you can do today to improve your mental health [24:27]
- The next big thing on the horizon for Kevin Briggs [28:19]
- What brought Kevin joy and put him in the mindset for success [28:59]
How training for first responders has evolved over time
Kevin started his career as a police officer without formal suicide prevention training. Now, the force provides Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to all of the officers. If a patrol officer works on the bridge, they receive special training. Each officer gets the opportunity to attend negotiation training as well.
So how did Kevin successfully talk hurting people down from the bridge before receiving training?
When he walked up to each person, he’d raise his right hand and ask their permission to come closer to speak to them. He’d introduce himself by his first name and ask them about what was happening in their lives. Then, he listened. He didn’t try to fix anything but listened and validated their experience(s).
To learn what he could do better, he started asking what he could have done better and did his best to learn from every person he talked off the ledge.
What Kevin wants people to know about suicide prevention
Kevin wants people to know that each and every one of us plays a pivotal role in crisis situations. If you have empathy and you truly care, you can help someone. Let them know that you’re there for them and validate what they’re going through. It can be as simple as saying, “That sounds really tough” and normalizing their situation.
How do you identify if someone is struggling with suicidal ideation?
- Talk: Are they talking about killing themselves? Are they saying things like “No one will miss me when I’m gone” or “Being in this unbearable pain…”
- Behavior: What does their behavior look like? Are they saying things like “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine” or “Next week everything is going to be great?”
- Mood: Are they sleeping too much or too little? Are they giving away possessions? Have they lost interest in things they used to like doing? Are they irritable?
People who sleep too much and begin to overuse drugs and alcohol do so to avoid experiencing pain.
How to help someone who is struggling
If you see that someone is struggling, start by having a conversation with them. Choose a location they feel comfortable with that isn’t in public. List what you’ve seen and heard. Then listen to what’s going on. It’s not about fixing things.
If you ask someone if they’re suicidal and they say, “yes,” ask them how long they’ve been thinking this way, if they have a plan, and if they’ve tried anything before. Ask what stopped them and focus on their reasons to stay alive.
Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel they are at imminent risk of attempting suicide. Let them know they don’t have to go through it alone and that you’re in their corner and available whenever they need you.
How do you slow down and start to recognize what’s happening with other people? Listen to hear Kevin’s advice.
Kevin’s powerful mantra: “Listen to understand”
What are their eyes saying? What are their mannerisms telling you? When you listen, you have to understand what is really going on with the other person. Don’t listen halfheartedly while focusing on what you’re going to say.
Secondly, you have to listen to yourself. Take the time to recognize what you’re going through as well. You can’t give, give, give and ignore that your own life is going downhill. So what can you do today to improve your mental health? Kevin shares some great tips that he’s implemented to improve his own mental health that is easy for anyone to adopt.
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with Kevin Briggs
Briggs, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant, spent many years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge. While on patrol, he encountered numerous individuals clinging to life by a thread – individuals who had lost hope and could see no way out of their current situation – ready to jump off the bridge to what they assumed was a sudden death and ending of their pain and hopelessness.
Briggs, through his compassion, gentle voice, eye contact, and his innate ability of “listening to understand” encouraged more than 200 individuals over his career to not end their life, but to begin a new chapter.
These challenging but rewarding efforts earned him the nickname “Guardian of the Golden Gate.” After spending 3 years in the United States Army, 3 years with the California Department of Corrections and 23 years with the California Highway Patrol, Briggs retired to dedicate his life to promote mental health awareness across the globe through Pivotal Points, an organization he founded.
Today, Briggs is mapping a movement as he speaks and trains others in suicide prevention, de-escalation, and negotiations. He shares his “Listening to Understand” skills followed up with key active listening points and discusses in depth his own personal mental health struggles.
Briggs spends the majority of his time speaking/teaching at conferences, community events and seminars worldwide. His first book, Guardian of the Golden Gate: Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair, was released in July 2015. A series of Wellness workbooks are currently in production and will debut in 2022.
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.
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