I am away at the annual meeting of the Northern California Psychiatric Society this weekend and while taking a break from the presentations I wanted to try to come up with a quick post that might be relevant to this blog.
Probably the most moving part of the weekend was last night’s presentation by Kevin Brigg, who for many years worked as a California Highway Patrol officer on the Golden Gate bridge, not infrequently called upon to intervene when people tried to jump off the bridge.
He spoke poignantly about his own struggles with depression, and the rescues and terrible tragedies he witnessed on the bridge.
He reminded the audience that the, finally approved, barrier won’t be installed for at least a couple of years. And so the bridge remains the number one site for suicides in the country.
The stories mostly reminded me how arbitrary the outcome is. People who seemed to be deciding to “come back” across the fence onto the bridge would suddenly, impulsively, leap off the edge, while people who seemed to right on the edge of death would eventually come back.
He reminded us that suicide is an act driven by desperation and a “crisis state” that makes reasoning all but impossible. The one thing he kept pointing out was, stay engaged with the person at risk, the longer the conversation the more likely the person is to come out of that crisis state. And, he implied, once that happens the odds are very good that the person will decide not to jump.
Throughout the talk what came through clearly was the respect and love that Kevin brought to his work.
Here is a link to a TED talk version that will give you a sense of what he had to say…
And this is a link to his website…