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MLB’s San Francisco Giants & Drew Robinson Team Up with 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

September 15, 2023 

According to the United States' CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2022. In recognition of this crisis and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), the San Francisco Giants' Mental Health and Wellness team and former MLB player, Drew Robinson, have partnered with Vibrant Emotional Health – the administrators of leading US suicide helpline, 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – on a campaign focused on increasing mental health support and awareness in sports. 

Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the 988 Lifeline is a national network of 215 independently operated centers in 56 States and Territories in America. It provides emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week via phone, text and chat. 

The CDC reports that the number of suicide deaths in the country had been on a downward trend in 2019 and 2020, however, it increased by 5% in 2021 and another 2.6% in 2022. Adults 65 and older saw the largest increase in suicide deaths by any age group from 2021 to 2022, with an 8.1% rise. Research also shows that suicide amongst children and young adults aged 10-24 has trended upwards over the last two decades, rising 62% from 2007 to 2021. The youth mental health crisis is particularly concerning in teenage girls. A March CDC survey found that 1 in 3 American high school girls have seriously considered attempting suicide and more than half reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless. Additionally, a recent report from John Hopkins University found that the suicide rate among Black youth increased 144% from 2007 to 2020, with Black LGBTQ+ youth particularly at risk. 

Throughout September's Suicide Prevention Month in the US, Robinson and the Giants are working to increase visibility and awareness of the 988 Lifeline to bring mental health conversations to the field and off. The campaign will also bring attention to the available resources for mental health support for athletes, fans, staff and the MLB community. This partnership with Vibrant will continue to prioritize mental wellness and life-saving crisis response within the league and throughout the sporting world. 

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Robinson, himself a suicide survivor, co-founded the Better Universe Foundation to help end stigmas around asking for help and to provide access to mental health services. In his role as a Mental Health Advocate with the Giants, he is focused on helping players and staff become more comfortable with addressing and improving their mental and emotional well-being. He does this by "bridging the uncomfortable gap that most people involved in performance-driven professions face when needing to reach out for help/support."

“We need to eliminate the stigma around mental health care,” said Robinson. “With many people facing mental health challenges, it’s key that these issues are openly discussed and addressed.” 

Giants players and coaches, includign from four minor league affiliates, are sporting 988 Lifeline armbands during warmups throughout September The Giants Mental Health and Wellness team also hosted a group of high school student leaders of school mental health programs for a pre-game presentation on suicide prevention on the 10th.

“The 988 Lifeline is focused on continually reaching more people and this initiative will help spread awareness of life-saving resources nationwide. Mental health is important for all communities and we hope that athletes at all levels of sports feel empowered to access our support services and promote mental wellbeing,” said Dr. Tia Dole, Chief 988 Lifeline Officer at Vibrant.

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Beyond Sport is now accepting applications for free youth Coaches Training in select states as part of our Head in the Game program powered by Z Zurich Foundation in collaboration with Zurich North America. Coaches will be trained through a mental wellbeing lens during sessions led by the Center for Healing and Justice Sport and Doc Wayne starting this month.  Learn more and apply here


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