Bridge Angels: Bay Area group bringing awareness to veteran suicide on Memorial Day

ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Bay Area group bringing awareness to veteran suicide
A group called Bridgewatch Angels is raising awareness for what they say is another important part of Memorial Day-remembering veterans who died by suicide.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A group called Bridgewatch Angels is raising awareness for what they say is another important part of Memorial Day-- remembering veterans who died by suicide.

"We're out here looking for people who may be in crisis so that we can help them," Chris Donot, a volunteer with Bridgewatch Angels, told ABC7.

TAKE ACTION: Help for veterans of all eras, and their families

Bridgewatch Angels stand guard on the Golden Gate Bridge-- silently observing, looking for possible jumpers. For nearly10 years this is how they've spent their holidays.

On this Memorial Day they're back again, but this time with an added purpose-to honor those who have served our county and died of suicide.

"It's significant to raise awareness about PTSD and the issues surrounding PTSD in terms of the triggers that veterans and active duty personnel experience," Mia Munayer, who founded Bridgewatch Angels in 2010, explained, "And those triggers will often bring them to places like the Golden Gate Bridge."

Monday's remembrance comes on the anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The bridge opened 82 years ago and less than a few months after that a world war two veteran jumped to his death, becoming the first known suicide on this span.

It's an issue larger than this one group-and this one bridge. According to the latest numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs, on average, 20 U.S. veterans die by suicide every day resulting in more than 6,000 veteran suicides a year.

The data also shows male veterans are 1.4 percent times as likely to die by suicide than non-veterans. With women, it's even higher at a rate of 1.8 percent.

Responses to a recent tweet by the U.S. army asking "how the military has influenced you" is also bringing attention to this issue after several veterans, active service members and their families, replied with stories about dealing with mental illness, trauma and PTSD.

It's something Bridgewatch Angels hope more people will talk about.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

"Sometimes it's easy to get alienated in an environment and you just feel like you're alone," Susan Corts, a veteran and Bridgewatch Angel volunteer, said. "So, sometimes, you know, just having a kind person to be present is important."

The Bridgewatch Angels were on the bridge until 2 pm on Monday. They come out every holiday and welcome all volunteers. One woman was even from Atlanta, Georgia. There's a training in the beginning of the day to coach volunteers on how to approach people they think might be in a crisis situation.

To found out how you can volunteer go here.