This traffic cop has prevented over 200 people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Not all heroes wear capes. Some, like former California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs, wear a traffic cop uniform and a smile.

All screenshots from "The Traffic Cop Who Became the Guardian of the Golden Gate."


Former San Francisco Sergeant Kevin Briggs has been credited with preventing more than 200 people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.    

The iconic — but notorious — California landmark has gained a conflicting reputation as one of the sites that has the highest number of suicides in the United States: Almost 1,700 people have jumped to their deaths.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

One of those people was a man named James, who jumped right in front of Briggs — and that experience changed his life forever.  

“I know that when someone gets to that level, it’s very, very difficult to get through to them and to get them to come back. But, we have to try.”

Briggs learned more about James' history, including his struggles with mental illness. It was a common thread that Briggs saw during his years as a highway traffic patrol cop. He saw people contemplate suicide often, and his job was to work with them to see if he could get them back.

But Briggs didn't have a lot of experience with mental illness. His office didn't have any training on how to work with people struggling with mental illness, so he researched it himself. He went through the basics of mental illness, the stage of various illnesses, and how to approach someone contemplating suicide.

His dedication mattered. In 2005, Briggs was photographed talking Kevin Berthia off the bridge ledge in an iconic photo.

Berthia was one of many people who Briggs helped to save. As he gained more experience with preventing people from jumping off the bridge, he asked them about his methods — including what worked and what didn't — so he could help more people.

“It took a lot of courage to go over that rail," said Briggs. "Personally, I think it takes even more courage to come back.”

While the academic understanding of mental illness was relatively new to Briggs, suicide was not. He lost his grandfather to suicide as a child.

A young Kevin Briggs.

Briggs was aware that mental illness could be in his family, but his own diagnosis was still a surprise.

It wasn't until he saw his doctor for a routine physical that he was diagnosed with depression. This revelation only pushed Briggs to learn and help others even more.

“If I’m experiencing these things — if I can help somebody else through a very, very dark time, I’m gonna. I’m gonna do my darnedest to try and do that.”    

Though retired, Briggs shows no signs of slowing down on his journey to help others. He began giving speeches around the country — including a powerful Ted Talk — on how to develop the necessary courage and skills to help others suffering with suicidal thoughts.

In 2014, Kevin Briggs gave a moving Ted Talk on the bridge between suicide and life.

Initially afraid of being ridiculed at his job or ostracized by friends, Briggs ended up receiving numerous letters of gratitude from people struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, who thanked him for his work and influence in their lives. Through his work, he's gained numerous new friends around the world, and he's changed lives while doing it.  

“I want to reach as many people as I can, to show them that there is a way not only to survive, but to thrive.”  

Watch Kevin Briggs talk about his life-saving work below:

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Did you know that the simple act of smiling can trick your brain into feeling better, improve your health, and even help you live longer? It's true. Science says.

If you're looking for a reason to smile, here are ten of them.

1. The way this grandma says, "I'm so happy to see you!"

A young woman shared that her grandma always comes to check on her when she hasn't come out of her room for a while. "You want some food???" This is just too wholesome. Watch the whole thing.


2. These two geese were mesmerized by a man playing harmonica in a Taipei park.

Qiqi and Fanfan are into it, y'all. Listen to them try to join in a few times.

3. Ryan Reynolds and a special guest singing six-part harmony? Yes, please.

The Grace Kelly TikTok challenge had people singing the chorus to Mika's 2007 song "Grace Kelly" with various harmonies. I won't give away the cameo here, in case you haven't seen it yet. So fun. Read more about it here.

4. This dad knew his daughter was a prankster, and yet she managed to trick him anyway.

Aryanna's got skills. Dad knows she's got skills. The way he immediately looks all around for traps and still gets surprised. That grin on her face, too. So dang funny. Read the full story here.

5. Norm MacDonald's heartwarming advice to a fan who lost his mother.

The iconic comedian's passing at 61 came as a surprise, but his advice for how to handle grief is a lesson for us all: "Take all the love you have for her, Pablo, and give it freely to all that you meet. Your mom will look down upon you, happy and proud."

6. A Portland cat cafe reopened, and all the cats up for adoption got homes in less than a day.

First of all, the cafe is called Purrington's. I mean, come on. Second of all, it's a cafe where you can hang out with cats that need homes, which is awesome. The cafe had hit some snags in recent years with COVID restrictions and whatnot, but on the day of its reopening, every cat got a home. Yay for the kitties. Read the full story here.


7. This is seriously the greatest "walk of shame" I've ever seen.

At first, you're thinking, "Why is that guy walking into a park pond?" Then it's, "Ooooh. I see." Then finally, "OMG that right there is what living life to its fullest looks like."

8. The U.S. is reportedly buying 500 million more vaccines to donate to the rest of the world.

We're all in this together, literally. The only way we're going to get the pandemic under control is to make sure everyone has access to COVID vaccines. The need is great, but we're stepping up to help meet it. Love to see the U.S. taking leadership on this front.

Read the full story here.

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash


9. New Zealand firefighters offer a Haka to honor the first responders who perished on 9/11.

Okay, this one might make you smile and cry at the same time. Such a beautiful offering and reminder of how connected we all are.

10. Watch this street photographer help an elderly Italian woman see her own beauty.

Dino Serrao's TikTok channel is the place to go when you want to be reminded of the unique beauty in every human being. All of his videos are great, but this one is so heartwarming. Their interaction is so sweet, but her recognizing her own gorgeousness after initially telling him she didn't want her picture taken is just wonderful.


I hope that brought a little joy and hope into your day! Come back to Upworthy again next Friday for ten more reasons to smile. :)