Kevin Berthia’s Story: “Hearing, Hope, & Healing”
Kevin Berthia is a suicide survivor and prevention advocate. Kevin was born with a genetic major depression disorder. In 2005, at the age of 22, Kevin attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.
“I had never dealt with any of the problems in my life, and that morning I was overwhelmed by it all. I was adopted at six months and my adoptive parents divorced when I was 12. I had just become a father; my daughter was born prematurely and was in an incubator for eight weeks. I blamed myself.
I had never spoken to anybody about how I felt and I never accepted I had depression. Where I come from – Oakland, California – reputation is everything, so I convinced everyone I was OK. But I was tired and I couldn’t do it any more.
I parked and walked towards the bridge. As I jumped over the railings I heard someone say: “Hey, wait a minute.” I was convinced I was going to end my life , but at the last moment his voice made me stop and grab the railings. That’s what you see in the picture – me standing on the ledge. I now know that was Officer Briggs (center, leaning on the railings). He snapped me back to reality. I was on that ledge for 92 minutes, and for 89 of those I just talked. I got everything out and he listened without judging.
He tried to show me the important things in my life, focusing on my daughter. Hope came back. I put my arms up, and he and another officer helped me up and back over the railings.”
It wasn’t until 8 years after his attempt that Kevin was reunited with the officer who talked him back to safety. Since then, Kevin’s story of HOPE has touched a diverse group of audiences all around the world. Kevin has had the opportunity to share his story with several magazine outlets along with local and national news stations. Kevin’s story was also featured on the Steve Harvey Show. The photo of him standing on the cord was front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and placed on the 75 most iconic photos of the 21st Century.
Kevin believes that having attempted suicide plays a major role in the prevention of additional suicides. No one knows more about the darkness that surrounds suicide than those who have walked in its shadow.
Mission: The Kevin Berthia Foundation was started and created to give those individuals that suffer in silence with both undiagnosed and diagnosed mental health conditions a voice of hope.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html.
“The more we have these conversations, the more these conversations can be had.” ~ Alison Jaye