My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 19, 2022

New suicide and crisis line for anyone in the US to access crisis care

By Jose Jasso, Employee Assistance Program Manager

You can now call or text 988 to get access to the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Suicide continues to be one of the most significant public health issues across all cultures. Consider the following facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention (AFSP) from 2020: 

  • The U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes.
  • The suicide rate among men was four times higher than among women. 

In an effort to improve access to crisis services and existing resources for crisis care in America, Congress has designated 988 as the new three-digit dialing code for everyone across the United States to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or 1-800-273-8255). The 988 dialing code is a first step towards strengthening access to crisis care in much the same way as existing medical emergency services.  

The new 988 dialing and texting code is a direct connection to confidential, compassionate, accessible care, and support for anyone in distress, whether it is due to thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Additionally, people can also dial or text 988 if they are worried about a friend or a loved one who may need crisis support.  

Suicide is a public health problem that affects everyone—the Coast Guard workforce and family members are no exception. The 988 dialing code is one more helping resource that is available to anyone (military, civilian, family) to get help and/or encourage others to seek help.  

In addition to 988, Coast Guard members and their family members may also contact CG SUPRT.  Anyone with an emotional crisis may call CG SUPRT by dialing 1-855-CGSUPRT (or 1-855-247-8778); this resource is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Alternatively, members may also reach out to their local Employee Assistance Program Coordinator (EAPC) or other Work-Life Specialist by calling 1-202-475-5100.  

If you know of a friend, loved-one, co-worker, or family member who is exhibiting suicidal signs or behaviors, be willing to Ask, Care, and Escort. Ask direct questions about their plans for committing suicide; Care for the person by calmly communicating your concern for them, and limiting their access to any means to induce self-harm; Escort the person immediately to a helping resource or agency. Don’t leave the person alone. If anything, bring it to the attention of someone who can help.  

Don’t keep it a secret.  If the person is on active duty, informing the person’s chain of command is essential, especially if the person is unwilling or unable to obtain help on their own. 

Suicide is preventable. It can start by calling or texting 988 and getting connected with a trained crisis counselor for confidential support and resources. 988 is free and available 24/7/365.

In the News:
Early intervention is the best prevention of suicide—the main message for Mental Health Awareness Month

Related Resources:

  • Call 911: If you feel someone is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, call 911 without hesitation.
  • CG SUPRT: Call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778) at any time. This is the Coast Guard Employee Assistance Program (EAP), available to assist active duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and family members with stressors that could lead to more serious consequences, such as depression and suicidal thoughts. You can also visit CG SUPRT online at www.cgsuprt.com.
  • The Coast Guard recently welcomed a team of Regional Behavioral Health Providers (RBHPs). You, your units, as well as, Coast Guard leadership, have access to enhanced prevention, intervention, and postvention behavioral health support. To make an appointment with your RBHP, please contact your unit medical officer for a referral or email.
  • Work-Life Employee Assistance Program Coordinators (EAPCs) are also available to assist with connecting you to various supportive resources. 
  • Find your local chaplains or call 1-855-USCG-CHC (872-4242).
  • Suicide Prevention Program webpage