'Build a Bridge for Living': Free seminar for tools to lower anxiety and depression

During this suicide prevention awareness month, here’s a unique opportunity, for anyone who is suffering from anxiety or depression.

You're invited to a free online event on Wednesday, September 16, that will feature the Menninger Clinic and a special guest who hopes to share ideas to help reverse the pain.

Kevin Briggs is a retired Sergeant from the California Highway Patrol. He knows what depression looks like for several reasons. He has personally battled it, and he's known as the "Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge", after talking hundreds of people off the ledge.

“When I first started this, I had no training in this, I didn't know how to approach people. I didn't know what to say if I say something wrong and they jumped, am I in trouble? It was kind of one of those unwritten things that you just handled on the bridge and it was kind of secondary to what we typically do as a highway patrolman,” states Sergeant Briggs.

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He did extensive research in the library and by talking to others, to make sure he knew the right way to help someone desperate on the edge. He also learned something from those going through it.

“Every time I would talk to someone, and I'll let you know that most of the time if we get a chance to speak with someone, they do come back over the rail. I would ask them, ‘what did I do that was good that helped the situation. What did I do that kind of hurt the situation that you didn't like?’ So I learned about that from every single person,” states Sergeant Briggs.

Sergeant Briggs has dedicated his life to promoting mental health awareness across the globe through his organization, Pivotal Points. He shares his life's story of surviving cancer, and overcoming heart issues, divorce, PTSD and depression. He also lost a loved one to suicide. He wants everyone to know about the tools he developed to help in a crisis.

“How can we get folks to say you know what, it's okay to go see a trained mental health professional, there's no shame in that.  I didn't do it for years and I suffered for years. So, let's get the ball rolling and get some professionals into play. I know it can be a tough time to make appointments. Sometimes they're a month out, what can I do in the meantime,” questions Sergeant Briggs.

To make sure people have the tools they need when in mental anguish, he's teaming up with professionals, like Dr. Michelle Patriquin, a psychologist at Menninger Clinic.

“One of the biggest warning signs and more generally is, if there's a change of behavior, a change in how somebody's talking, and is that correlated to a specific event that happened in their lives? A lot of people are losing their jobs right now, so associated with loss. If all of a sudden you see a change in someone's behavior and the way they're talking about things, they are seeming more hopeless, saying things about feeling hopeless, or in despair and that's really associated with this major life event, so that's a major warning sign. But then is a person talking about killing themselves, having no reason to live, feeling like they're a burden on other people,” questions Dr. Patriquin.

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She says sleeping too much or too little can also be a sign of depression. Also, look for changes in emotions. If any of those signs are there, it may be time to seek help. You might be able to relate to someone like Sergeant Briggs.

“The way Sgt. Briggs talks about it really makes it accessible to people and understandable and can really connect. So with that, then people can get help, and you can really understand and have this more down-to-earth, approach. It can allow people to hopefully not feel as much shame, and in actually addressing these issues with a therapist and getting help,” states Dr. Patriquin.

The free virtual event will be presented by Menninger Clinic and it is open to the public.

 “Build a Bridge for Living” is on Wednesday, September 16, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. To register, click here.