Posted By: Envision2bWell, Inc
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) occurs annually on September 10th. This year marks the first year of the three-year-long theme created for WSPD by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP): “Creating Hope Through Action.” Their aim with this theme is to create a ‘social movement of preventive action’.
The sad truth is that over one in every 100 deaths (1.3%) in 2019 were the result of suicide, and over half (58%) of all deaths by suicide occur before the age of 50 years old. An individual suffering from depression is twenty times more likely to die by suicide than someone without the disorder. The tragedy of these lost lives due to suicide reverberates out exponentially, effecting millions globally.
Sergeant Kevin Briggs is a member of the California Highway Patrol responsible for patrolling the southern end of Marin County, home to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge which is one of the most utilized suicide sites in the world. He has responded to hundreds of suicide calls over the course of his career and spent countless hours talking and listening to people who have come to the bridge to take their life. In a TED talk he gave in 2014, he tells the story of Jason Garber, a young man aged 32 who flew out to California all the way from New Jersey to end his life. In fact, it was the third time he had flown out there to attempt suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.
After about an hour of talking together, Jason asked Kevin Briggs and the other officer who was with him if they knew the story of Pandora’s box. Pandora's box is a famous Greek mythology about a woman named Pandora who was created by the Greek God, Zeus and sent down to Earth with a box. Zeus gave Pandora strict instructions to never, under any circumstances, open the box. But, curiosity got the better of her and one day she succumbed to temptation and opened it. As soon as she did, out flew plagues, sorrows and all manners of evil against man. There was only one good thing in the box – hope.
Jason then asked the officers, “What happens when you open the box and hope isn’t there?” It was the last thing he said before he jumped.
The IASP writes on their website, “Creating Hope Through Action is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.” Here is a resource from the IASP on how you can reach out and provide hope to someone who is considering suicide.
Sergeant Briggs also offers advice in his TED talk about how to help someone who may be having suicidal thoughts. Having only lost two lives out of the hundreds he spoke with on the Golden Gate Bridge, Briggs has unique wisdom and experience on how to talk with, listen to, and be a beacon of light for those who have lost sight of hope. His TED talk is below if you wish to watch it in its entirety.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you live in a country outside United States, you can find your country’s helpline number by clicking here.
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