NFL launches help line for current, former players

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(CNN) — In the wake of the suicide of former New England Patriot and San Diego Charger Junior Seau, the National Football League launched the NFL Life Line this week. The Life Line is an around-the-clock crisis support line to help current and former players, as well as their families, in times of need.

In a letter to NFL personnel and fans announcing the program, Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote: “There is no higher priority for the National Football League than the health and wellness of our players.”

The phone line will be independently run from the NFL, and all calls will be kept confidential.

“It’s a relief that that’s going to be there,” said Shannon Jordan, president of Gridiron Greats, a program devoted to helping retired NFL players in need get financial and medical assistance.

As talk of mental health issues become more mainstream in the football community, Jordan is sure that more players will be willing to reach out for help.

“What’s happened in the past couple of years of these issues coming to the forefront and players talking and sharing, it only helps get rid of the stigma,” she said.

On the NFL’s Life Line website, a series of video messages from players including Michael Irvin and Brett Favre emphasize it’s OK to ask for help.

In one video, titled “To My Brothers,” Irvin says, “We have to share with one another.”

The NFL teamed up with national mental health organizations such as the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement the program.

Dr . Tim Lineberry, a psychiatrist with the Mayo Clinic and suicide prevention specialist, hopes the message will be felt beyond the football field. “The NFL is such a big part of American life,” he said. “I think it might have potential impact on others.”

Seau committed suicide in May. He was 43.

CLICK HERE for more information on the NFL’s Life Line Program.

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