“The NFL Life Line offers NFL players, staff, and their families a confidential resource for talking about emotional, physical, financial, relationship, or legal issues. Recognizing and addressing needs before they escalate into a crisis can save lives and prolong careers. This new NFL Life Line provides another step forward in changing perceptions about the importance of seeking help for challenges we all face in our lifetime.” – HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Every suicide is a tragedy, and every suicide causes untold pain for those left behind. Once is an unbearable tragedy, but this heartbreak has touched the NFL community three times since February 2011. While there are still unknowns about the long-term effects of playing football and its impact on future health, we do know that suicide can be prevented. SAMHSA applauds the NFL for taking positive steps to address mental and substance use disorders by providing confidential, independent, and secure counseling to the NFL community, with the release of the NFL Life Line and supporting website (www.NFLlifeline.org). The telephone service and website were launched on July 26.
The NFL Life Line has its roots in effective SAMHSA programs, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) and Disaster Distress Helpline, and in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Crisis Line (a partnership with SAMHSA and NSPL). We commend the NFL’s stride into this employer-driven, 24/7 support service that will connect members of the NFL community with specially trained counselors who understand the challenges experienced by NFL players, league and team staff, and their families. We hope this initiative serves as a model for similar employee-driven innovations nationwide.
We are pleased that the NFL, in partnership with Link2Health Solutions, the Education Development Center, Reingold, and the Jed Foundation, is using a model that has been evaluated for its effectiveness in reducing emotional stress and suicidal thinking.
Half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a mental or substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and more than half of all Americans know someone in recovery from a substance use problem. Professional athletes are no different. Beyond the talent, brawn, and charisma are men who sometimes also need emotional support and resources. It’s important to remember that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover from behavioral health problems.
Once again, we applaud the NFL for recognizing these critical issues and offering its family the tools to reach out and stay healthy.
Prevention help lines are available for the general public, as well. For more information:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Veterans Crisis Line: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
- Disaster Distress Helpline: http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/disasters/hurricanes-and-tropical-storms.aspx