Volunteers work to reduce holiday season suicides on Golden Gate Bridge

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The holiday season is in full swing, and while depression is a year-round issue, experts say the hustle and bustle can add another layer of stress.

"This sort of anxiety and stress that comes about with having to deal with family, that's normal," said Fletcher Johnson, education and outreach coordinator with San Francisco Suicide Prevention. "That's where a lot of our calls come from during the holidays."

But one group is doing what it can to help people during the holidays.

RELATED: Suicide and mental health resource page

Bridgewatch Angels focuses on the Golden Gate Bridge, where 39 people died by suicide last year.

Volunteers walk the span, keeping an eye out for anyone who appears to be in trouble.

Jill Tupper worked Thanksgiving Day. "It's just an opportunity to bring hope," said Tupper. "Both of our lives have been affected by suicide by dear, dear friends so we understand what that sense of loneliness is."

Volunteers are trained to look for signs someone may be considering suicide and how to communicate with those in trouble.

RELATED: CDC: Suicide rate among teen girls at all-time high

Volunteers also work in teams and use special hand cues to summon help from law enforcement.

Bridgewatch Angels reported two successful interventions on Thanksgiving.

"Just a smile, just a touch, just a 'how are you?' really shifts things," said Tupper. "I think it gives them a sense of hope (so) they don't feel so alone."

Bridgewatch Angels will be back on the Golden Gate Bridge on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Their goal is for no one to be alone on their watch.

Click here for more stories related to suicide and mental health.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.