SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - In 2005, Kevin Berthia was just seconds away from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He was over the railing, but officers from California Highway Patrol saw him and ended up talking and listening to him for over 90 minutes, before Berthia finally climbed back up and over the railing.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new study that says suicides in the U.S. are on the rise and is now the 10th leading cause of death in the country. It was also this week that we saw two high-profile suicides of people who seemed to have everything going for them. Designer Kate Spade took her own life on Tuesday, followed by the death of celebrity chef-food and travel show host of CNN's 'Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain.
Kevin Berthia joined Frank Somerville on set to share his story, but initially said he was shocked and saddened by the two suicides this week.
"These are two brilliant people who are loved by so many, but I can understand," he said. "That day that I got to the bridge, I didn't feel anything. I wanted to get out of pain. I wanted to get out of suffering."
Berthia said he suffered for 22 years of his life silently.
He wasn't prepared to talk. He was already in the mindset that he was going to jump, hit the water and that it would be all over.
But it was a CHP officer who intervened that made all the difference.
"He reminded me how important life was. My daughter's birthday was coming up," said Berthia. "I had so much to live for. I had no idea I had so much yet to accomplish."
Frank told Berthia that he had interviewed someone who had attempted suicide twice. She said the voice inside someone's head who is in that frame of mind is always the loudest.
Berthia agreed, "We don't want to do this. I felt like it was my only alternative. I didn't see loved ones, I didn't see family. I didn't see anything that was important to me. I was just in a dark place by myself."
According to the CDC, 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. That averages to 163 people each day, or enough to fill Oracle arena twice.
"It's an epidemic," Berthia says. We sit around and forget how serious this is.
Berthia sat on the set wearing a button that read, "World Without Suicide."
"I believe it," he says. "It starts with listening. It starts with understanding what people are going through. It starts with compassion. Status doesn't matter. You could be a billionaire, you could be the poorest person on earth."
Berthia drove down to Oakland from Sacramento because this segment and suicide prevention advocacy is so important to him.
"This means the world to me," he said.
If you need help or know of someone in need, the National Suicide Hotline is there for you: 800-273-8255 or suicide and crisis hotline (855) 278-4204.