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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 6, 2023

Connect to Protect: Showing the connection to build better protection

By Cmdr. LaMar Henderson, Coast Guard Suicide Prevention Manager and AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG Writer

“Connectedness is a key prevention factor in reducing the likelihood that someone will consider suicide,” said Cmdr. LaMar Henderson, the Coast Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program Manager. “The loss of one individual has a rippling effect on the emotional and physical stability of so many. This month’s suicide prevention campaign ‘Connect to Protect: Showing the connection to build better protection,’ reminds us that, while we are individuals, we are also each part of a collective.” 

The Coast Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program (CG-1K11) will host a series of virtual Wellness Wednesday calls for National Suicide Prevention Month. Presenters will discuss the impact mental health and suicide has had on their life.  

Each event will take place on Wednesday during the month of September from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. EST. You can join each session here on Teams

  • September 6 – Turning Pain to Prevention. Terri and Robert Bogue will discuss the loss of their son and discuss how they are honoring their son’s legacy through their prevention efforts.  
  • September 13 – From the Edge of the Deck. Senior Chief Petty Officer Joseph Hoff will talk about his mental health journey and its impact on his Coast Guard career.  
  • September 20 – Chain Reaction. Chief Petty Officer Nate Hendrix will discuss the loss of his former fiancé (not due to suicide), and the impact of her loss on his aviation career. 
  • September 27– Building Resiliency Within the Military for First Responders. Closing out the month, we will have a presentation from our CG SUPRT contractor on strategies and resources to strengthen individual and group resiliency.  

If you cannot access the sessions through the link above, please call-in: 410-874-6742,  

Conference ID: 646-365-62#. 

How can you be a leader in suicide prevention? Here are some suggestions: 

  • Get to know your servicemembers on a personal level so you can recognize risk factors in individuals, assess life-coping skills, ask situational awareness questions, and seek opportunities to influence behavior positively. 
  • Saying “I hope you are taking care of yourselves” or asking people “how they are doing” is not sufficient (people will inevitably respond with “doing well/ok” or “living the dream").  
  • Create an inclusive environment for all servicemembers to promote positive coping skills in the face of adversity. Start by asking “how do each of you cope with stress?” And follow-up with, “when time is more limited than usual, what are your outlets to sort things out.” 
  • Promote connectedness through a buddy system or other peer support programs that promote protective factors. Start by asking “who are your top three people you lean on for support?” And follow-up with, “if you cannot reach them, what do you do?” 
  • Highlight that everyone has a role to play in preventing self-harm, especially suicide.  

Support is Within Reach 

  • For immediate assistance, call 988 or 911.  
  • CG SUPRT is here to assist active-duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and their eligible family members with a wide range of issues, including financial matters, relationship discord and other stressors. Call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778) or visit them online at
  • Talk with a Shipmate Support Peer who is trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). 

If you are interested in becoming certified in ASIST or in hosting a suicide prevention training, contact your local Employee Assistance Program Coordinator (EAPC) or Cmdr. Henderson (202 494-0561).