Washington State Department of Health
OLYMPIA – Washington’s Native and Strong Lifeline is now live –the first program of its kind in the nation dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native people.
Calls are answered by Native crisis counselors who are tribal members and descendants closely tied to their communities. The Native and Strong Lifeline counselors are fully trained in crisis intervention and support, with special emphasis on cultural and traditional practices related to healing.
Operated by Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOA), one of our state’s three 988 crisis centers, this line is available for people who call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and is specifically for Washington’s American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
The Native and Strong Lifeline is integrated into the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline system in Washington state. When someone calls 988 Lifeline from a Washington state area code, they will hear an automated greeting that features different options, such as the Veterans Crisis Line and the Spanish Language Line. Callers can now choose option 4 to be connected to the Native and Strong Lifeline.
Among Washington state residents in 2020, non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people had a 34 percent higher suicide rate than the general population. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the barriers to care that Native communities face. As a result, during the pandemic, American Indians experienced higher suicide and overdose attempt rates – at least two times higher than that of non-American Indians.
In addition to the Native and Strong Lifeline, the Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub is a statewide central resource line developed to meet the needs of tribes and tribally affiliated people who may need help navigating the complex behavioral health system. VOA also administers the Hub. The Hub assists tribal agencies, health care professionals, hospitals, and in- and outpatient programs as well as families and individuals. For more information, call the Hub directly at 1-866-491-1683.
For more information on the Native and Strong Lifeline and 988 Lifeline, visit www.doh.wa.gov/988.