SAN FRANCISCO -- As he shivered on a narrow iron bar 220 feet above San Francisco Bay, 22-year-old Kevin Berthia heard a voice. It did not belong to the old wounds, crushing worries and inner demons that had driven him to the Golden Gate Bridge.

This voice, calm and kind, patient and reassuring, belonged to California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs. And it was all that stood between Berthia and all-but-certain death. For more than an hour, Briggs kept talking as the younger man poured out his troubles.

"I know you think things are bad, but they can get better," Briggs said.

Berthia decided to believe him and eight years later credits him with saving his life.

On Wednesday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is recognizing the CHP with a public service award in suicide prevention in New York. The honor will be accepted by Briggs, who colleagues say has a gift for connecting with those thinking of killing themselves.

They say he has had only one of them jump during his 23-year career.

"They make the decision," Briggs, who was promoted to sergeant five years ago and now trains other officers on how to work with suicidal people, said of those he's influenced. "This is a huge decision, and when they come back, it starts a whole new life for them. I believe they are so stressed and so ready to go that when they step back over that rail, it takes a tremendous amount of courage."

The occasion will reunite him with Berthia, who is presenting the award. The two men last saw each other at San Francisco General Hospital, where Berthia was brought for treatment following his March 11, 2005, suicide attempt.

"He never made me feel guilty for being in the situation I was in," said Berthia, now 30 and a married father of two, recalled of the conversation with Briggs on the bridge. "He made me feel like, `I understand why you are here, but there are alternatives.'

"That an individual who doesn't even know me could listen to me and hear my story and show me compassion gave me another reason maybe to try again," Berthia said.

More than 1,500 people have killed themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate, making the bridge that opened in 1937 one of the world's most-active suicide spots. A less-known statistic is the much larger number of people who have been talked out of taking their lives by the CHP, U.S. Park Police and bridge security officers.

Last year, there were 33 confirmed and three unconfirmed suicides from the famous span. But the bridge district recorded 86 successful interventions. So it is not uncommon for veteran officers to have persuaded hundreds of people to accept offers of help.

Since the mid-1990s, when the bridge district was facing pressure to install a physical barrier to prevent jumpers from getting over the sides, the number of officers participating in anti-suicide patrols has increased along with the intensity and sophistication of their efforts.

Officers on bicycles, scooters and motorcycles – there are more of them assigned to the bridge after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – actively engage pedestrians who appear sad or out of place, ones who are lingering by the railing without a camera and looking down.

Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District Capt. Lisa Locati said the work of persuading people not to kill themselves is as much about instinct and desire and buying time as anything else. There is no script. Each officer has his or her own techniques.

And if what one officer is saying doesn't seem to be working, another will step in.

CHP Officer Sandro Salvetti, who lost an older brother to suicide 22 years ago, usually starts with small talk, and then moves on to questions designed to ferret out someone's mental state. If the answers are evasive or don't add up, he asks if they are intending to hurt themselves.

"I've had people laugh at me, and they are like, `No, I was just waiting for this boat to come by' or to see this flock of birds," Salvetti said. "Others will look at me and start crying."

More than once, he has told would-be jumpers how his brother's death devastated him. Just last week, he shared the story with a middle-aged man who was having financial problems.

"I said, `You can't do this, This is what happened to me.' He sat there and absorbed it," he said. "When I left him at the hospital, he stood up and shook my hand and thanked me. That's the satisfaction."

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  • View from the Walk

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Traci_Brodnax"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/22603236/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Traci_Brodnax">Traci Brodnax</a>:<br />Snapped this photo during my first walk ever across the Golden Gate Bridge in February 2009.

  • The Mighty Golden

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jennifer_Frimml"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3200100.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jennifer_Frimml">Jennifer Frimml</a>:<br />Where ocean meets the bay.

  • Golden Gate Bridge from the deck of the Star Princess cruise ship

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AgentAkit"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3200115.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AgentAkit">AgentAkit</a>:<br />Taken in April 2009 on a round-trip cruise to Mexico from San Francisco.

  • From Cavallo Point

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Andrea_Scallon"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3200127.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Andrea_Scallon">Andrea Scallon</a>:<br />

  • An alternative view of the bridge...

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rambosf"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rambosf">Rambosf</a>:<br />This was taken today (May 7, 2012) at Baker/Marshall Beach.

  • This is Home

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/laurelxxi"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/laurelxxi">laurelxxi</a>:<br />Nothing's better than a clear sky and going over the Golden Gate Bridge!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Genia_Roper"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/169000074/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Genia_Roper">Genia Roper</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leandro_Pimenta"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leandro_Pimenta">Leandro Pimenta</a>:<br />

  • Bird Staring at Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/anacaren08"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/anacaren08">anacaren08</a>:<br />This bird seems to enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge too.

  • Clearing storm over the Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/425071-tiny.png?20091001211236" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970">shakedown1970</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Bridge from on the Bay

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/425071-tiny.png?20091001211236" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970">shakedown1970</a>:<br />Golden Gate Bridge from on the Bay

  • Golden Gate Bridge from Horseshoe Bay Sausalito.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />Saturday, May 5, 2012.

  • Sun Gate - From Grizzly Peak Oakland Hills

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Sunset from Grizzly Peak

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Blasphemous_Girl"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Blasphemous_Girl">Blasphemous Girl</a>:<br />I took this while on a cruise around the Bay

  • Nicolas Ewing at GoldenGate Bridge, 1st visit!

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lilliewinghere"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lilliewinghere">lilliewinghere</a>:<br />Nic and The Golden Gate Bridge, A Majestic combination!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mrbblack"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/588578598/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mrbblack">mrbblack</a>:<br />Structure

  • Surfing Fort Point

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/newmanfilm"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/6704711/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/newmanfilm">newmanfilm</a>:<br />Surfers enjoying the waves at Fort Point

  • Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whube"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whube">whube</a>:<br />Golden Gate

  • Across the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Melissa_Lake"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/2492525.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Melissa_Lake">Melissa Lake</a>:<br />This picture was taken through the windshield of my car as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Golden Gate Bridge - South Tower

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Kulp"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Kulp">Jack Kulp</a>:<br />I got the chance to go to the very top of the GG Bridge about thirty years ago. And, yes. That's my foot

  • IPAD Pict

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jaime_Echeverri"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/677114342/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jaime_Echeverri">Jaime Echeverri</a>:<br />

  • Nikki at GGB

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ckim"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ckim">ckim</a>:<br />Nikki at GGB

  • Golden Landmark

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />A light fog rolls in through the city on a beautiful February evening in 2012.

  • GGB

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Hector_Machuca"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1391294170/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Hector_Machuca">Hector Machuca</a>:<br />

  • Bad Moon Rising

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />On May 5th 2012 the Moon rised up over the City of San Francisco and lit up the sky and waters beautifully. The Super Moon they called it was truly remarkable.

  • Golden Trails

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />A look at the famous Golden Gate Bridge at night with the light trails from the vehicles traveling north & south bound. The light combined with the candy apple red bridge sparked Golden as ever.

  • Underneath the Cobalt Sky

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />This was taken during the "Blue Hour" and it provided a cobalt blue sky which contrasted nicely with The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.

  • Up to the sky

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jacivico"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3206576.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jacivico">jacivico</a>:<br />Cellphone photography + fisheye toy lens

  • Golden Gate Silhouette

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Randall_Paetzold"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3206508.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Randall_Paetzold">Randall Paetzold</a>:<br />While driving home from an all-day family outing in Tomales Bay. Only moments later after merging on to the 80 south and cleared the trees from Cesar Chaves Park; we saw this (see photo). I broke out my Nikon 5000, slapped on my Nikkor 70-300mm lens, calmed my breathing, focused and shot. All the while, sitting as one of the seven backseat passengers in our VW van zipping through traffic. You'd never know by the shot. Ha! R!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dutt561"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/yahoo_profile_img/3206938.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dutt561">Dutt561</a>:<br />The Golden Gate Bridge, with the Golden Gate National Recreational Area in the background

  • Under the Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Agata_Kaczmarska"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/693449965/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Agata_Kaczmarska">Agata Kaczmarska</a>:<br />

  • Come Away With Me...to the moon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />The Super Moon with it's orange color shined bright over The City and through the iron rods of the Golden Gate Bridge on May 5th 2012.

  • It's a nice view if you can get it...

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/offsite2000"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/offsite2000">offsite2000</a>:<br />View from Angel Island Ferry

  • the power of movement and angle

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/paulasilver"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/paulasilver">paulasilver</a>:<br />i snapped this out of the car window over winter break with my family. i really love the fluidity of it.

  • The Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/"></a>:<br />

  • Surfing the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks">rjjacks</a>:<br />Surfing the Golden Gate

  • A foggy day at the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks">rjjacks</a>:<br />A foggy day at the Golden Gate

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stidf"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stidf">stidf</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Tower

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/1dark1"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/1dark1">1dark1</a>:<br />