Be there – it takes a community

Written by: John Sparks, Coast Guard SUPRT Program Director

Hey Coastie, you are trained to be a lifesaver. In fact, you will, on any given day, put yourself in harm’s way to ensure the safety of others. But what about the Coastie next to you who may be depressed to the point of contemplating or even attempting suicide? Do you know the telltale signs? Will you be there for your shipmate?

It has been said that it takes a community to raise a child. The same can be said for ferreting out and preventing suicide in our sea service community. Be there so that others may continue to simply be.

As crowded and busy as life is these days, it is still easy to feel alone. Generally, feelings and irrational thoughts cause us to slide into the valley of funk. Whether one calls it being sad, depressed, having the blues or simply out of sorts, the fact is everyone will experience it at some point in life. Many times it is purely the body’s normal ups and downs of mood. At other times, the downward ebb may be situational, such as experiencing a significant loss of loved one, pet, job, or anything one perceives as having personal value. When we feel there is no end to the darkness and pain, we may choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Every problem or situation has an end and a new beginning. Suicide has only an end.

Know the warning signs that might indicate a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself;
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
  • Talking about being a burden to others;
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
  • Sleeping too little or too much;
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you, a loved one, friend or colleague is exhibiting the above signs, please do not ignore them. An easy first step is to recommend they contact CG SUPRT by either phone or website. If you think there is imminent risk then call 911 or the local police to ensure the safety of the member. Remember that all services through CG SUPRT are free and confidential. Simply call CG SUPRT 24/7 at 855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778) or visit You can also contact your Employee Assistance Program Coordinator in your Work-Life Office for more information on CG SUPRT and other services through the office.

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