My name is Kevin Briggs and I’m the newest, and probably oldest (52), member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. With that being said, I’ll bet you’re asking yourself, “Why is this 52 year old ex-cop working with Active Minds?” Fair question.
For the better part of 23 years, I worked with the California Highway Patrol. During that time, I spent many years patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve spoken to hundreds of folks contemplating suicide on that bridge. Many of these people were young adults. Each and every time we “lost” someone, regardless of age, it broke my heart. It was even a harder blow when it was a young person.
In comparing older people in active crisis to younger people, what I noticed was the impulsiveness of young adults. Many of the older adults would go over the bridge’s rail and stand on a metal beam on the bay side of the bridge, holding on and contemplating what may be their last minutes on earth. The younger people would be walking on the sidewalk and suddenly leap over, seemingly without hesitation and without giving life another chance.
Impulsive and spontaneous behavior is great when playing sports. It very often provides for quick reactions and game-winning plays. Using these same behaviors in a brief, chaotic, crisis-oriented time deciding between life and death, often lead to catastrophic results.
My job as a negotiator was to try and slow time down when talking with someone in crisis, to give them a chance to really think about what they are doing, and the consequences of their actions. My job was not to judge, nor was it to advise them everything would be “alright,” as I would be lying. My goal was to empower the person to see life as a gift and to stay the course through tumultuous times, leaning on friends, family and professionals for support.
This leads me to why I am with Active Minds. I’m not here to give a sermon or tell you what to do or not to do. What I do is relate stories about events I have witnessed and struggles in my own life in the hopes you and your family and friends stay mentally well and have a meaningful, long life.
Through my experiences, I developed specific plans for communicating with persons in crisis. I’ve also developed a plan for self-care, which I use daily. My goal and joy is sharing these stories and models to promote mental illness awareness and ultimately break the stigmas associated with it; but my greater joy is hearing the stories of others.
After my presentation is the time I get to “meet and greet,” a favorite time of mine. You see, when I’m onstage I talk a lot about my own life – cancer, depression, heart surgery, motor cycle collisions… a whole gamut of life-changing events. There is a reason for this. If I cannot bare my soul and set the example, then how can I possibly ask others to do the same?
Afterwards, I make myself available to everyone. Many find they have bonded with me through something I said and wish to tell their stories. Some realize they may need help, or realize a friend or family member may need help.
As a parent, you wish the very best for your children. You would gladly take their place when injured or struck by disease. The worst…absolute worst…news a parent can hear is that their child lost their life to suicide. I can tell you unequivocally it can and does ruin parents’ lives, also. I wish to share my experiences and training so that you can not only effectively communicate with a person in crisis, but also do some soul searching for yourself so that you can maintain quality mental health.
I wish you all the very best and hope to speak with each and every one of you.
Book Kevin Briggs through Active Minds Speakers Bureau TODAY!