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What You Can Do to Help Prevent Suicide

By Ciara Dockery, Ph.D. & Dwight Hollier, LPC, NCC

What You Can Do to Help Prevent Suicide:

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the NFL and NFL Life Line are committed to ensuring all members of the NFL community feel supported. Learn what you can do to help!

What would you do if you saw someone choking? You’d likely perform the Heimlich maneuver. What about if someone’s heart stopped? You’d probably try CPR. What about if someone’s clothes caught fire? You’d probably instruct them in the “stop, drop and roll” technique. These are life-saving skills we learn from an early age. Now here’s a question: What about if someone was in suicidal crisis? Would you know what to do? Do you think they can be helped by you? The answer is YES! And we want to make sure you know how. 

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and we thought it important that we each commit ourselves to doing everything we can to support our fellow members of the NFL Community. That means equipping ourselves with the knowledge and tools to save lives and prevent suicide.

To give some perspective on this issue, according to the most recent CDC data, although suicide rates are on the rise in the US, for every one person who tragically dies by suicide approximately 278 people have serious thoughts about killing themselves - but they don’t.  So what keeps these people from acting on these thoughts? What keeps them safe? More and more data is emerging that it is the connections and relationships in their lives, along with internal coping techniques and spiritual practices, that most contributes to suicidal individuals staying safe. 

So that means there are things YOU can do to help keep our NFL community safe and supported. YOU can prevent suicide.

First step is knowing what to look for – here are some warning signs that someone might be contemplating suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

  • Talking about being a burden to others.

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

  • Sleeping too little or too much.

  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Second step is knowing and using the five action steps you can take to support that person and prevent suicide:

  1. Ask – it may be a tough question but it is so important to ask someone directly if they are having suicidal thoughts or contemplating ending their life.

  2. Keep Them Safe – work with the person to remove any lethal means available to them (i.e. firearms, medications, etc.)

  3. Be There - be present, listen with compassion and without judgment, let them know you care about them.

  4. Help them stay connected – work with them to connect to others who also care—friends, family, therapists, clergy, teachers, coaches, etc.—and to the NFL Life Line (1-800-506-0078) and other 24/7 crisis care resources

  5. Follow Up - check in regularly with the person you are concerned about, for the days and weeks after the crisis, let them know you are thinking about them, and that you are there to help if needed. These check-ins will go a long way to help that person feel cared about and on the road to recovery.

The National Football League has been, and continues to be, a strong supporter of suicide prevention in our community and in 2012 launched the NFL Life Line program. The NFL Life Line (1-877-506-0078; is an independent, confidential and free resource for any member of the NFL community and is staffed 24/7 by clinicians specifically trained in working with individuals in crisis. You can call or chat online, confidentially, not matter what the issue.

It is important to note, although funded by the NFL, The NFL Life Line is run through an independent organization (MHA-NYC) so your information will not be shared with the NFL. It is a completely confidential and independent program. Please reach out if you are concerned about yourself or someone in your life.

If you would like to be a part of the larger conversation during Suicide Prevention Month, the NFL Life Line is teaming up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to participate in their “Be The 1 To” campaign (#BeThe1To) to spread awareness around how each of us can be the one to prevent suicide in our communities and to share stories of hope and recovery. Learn how you can participate at

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Dwight Hollier and Ciara Dockery discuss why we need to start talking about suicide prevention, and how everyone can make a difference during Suicide Prevention Month in September