Warning, this article will feature discussions of suicidal ideation.
It’s often a point of ridicule that video game NPCs fail to feel like more than exposition or quest marker robots. “Here’s my abnormal slice of world text, I’ll repeat it every time you come talk to me. My position in the world and the things I’m saying bear little importance on each other and I exist in the world without any real purpose.”
Then you’ll occasionally get a game like Breath of the Wild and its suicide prevention NPC.
Brigo, a middle aged man who can be found on Proxim Bridge most in-game days, is aware of the downfall of the world in Breath of the Wild. He acknowledges that the end of days is likely approaching, and seems fairly preoccupied with the doom and gloom of a world where, at any time, a giant pig ghost could destroy the land. He’s certainly no stranger to the depressing reality Hyrule finds itself in.
However, if Link climbs up onto the edge of Proxim bridge, Brigo’s demeanor and attitude quickly change. Brigo is hanging out on the bridge because, seemingly, it’s a frequent suicide spot in the end of days. He has dedicated his days to talking jumpers safely back down onto the footpath.
Now, it’s worth acknowledging that most players climbing the wall of this bridge are not doing so with the intention of committing suicide in-game, or roleplaying a suicidal Link, and will likely instead find this dialogue as a result of climbing the bridge to paraglide onwards. Still, the NPC Brigo doesn’t care. To him, a person is climbing a bridge high over rushing water and he wants to help in any way he can to prevent thoughtless loss of life.
Brigo tries a couple of different tactics to talk Link down to safety, implying that he’s experienced enough to know that different suicidal individuals need talking down in different ways. He tells Link that his suicide won’t improve the world, he points out how distressing his suicide would be for innocent bystanders, he uses a little bit of humour and tries to encourage Link to just relax long enough to come down and talk.
Once Link retreats to the bridge walkway, Brigo gives him a stern talking to. He’s not unnecessarily critical, but he makes it clear how serious a choice was almost made and how big an impact it would have had on anyone around to see it.
Once it’s clear that Link is down from the ledge, Brigo sets aside some time to talk with him. He doesn’t ask him why he was planning to jump, or try to fix anything practical, but just offers Link a calm ear to listen. He provides someone to talk to and not think about what they just tried to do.
While this interaction with Brigo isn’t really important from a gameplay, questing or overall plot perspective, it does a great deal to make Breath of the Wild’s version of Hyrule feel like a real, lived in place. He’s an NPC who has a justified reason for inhabiting the part of the world he is found in, his dialogue presents a man who understands the depressing reality of the world to the point where it justifies the way he chose to dedicate his time, and he comes back day after day to do what he thinks is important.
As someone who has attempted suicide in the past, and still today battles suicidal urges, people like Brigo are incredibly underappreciated. As depressing as the world can be, and as tempting as death can become, sometimes all it takes is another human being talk to you, to listen, and to keep you here a few minutes longer to get you through a suicidal episode.
Thank you Brigo, for filling a role in Hyrule that didn’t serve any purpose but to make me feel hopeful about an often hopeless world.