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Native and Strong Lifeline celebrates one-year anniversary
This specialized crisis line continues to grow and support Native people in Washington state
OLYMPIA – Washington state’s Native and Strong Lifeline celebrates its first anniversary this Friday, November 10. It’s the nation’s first suicide prevention, crisis, and help line fully staffed and run by Native crisis counselors that serves American Indian and Alaska Native people. Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW) operates the line.
The Native and Strong Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365 for people experiencing a mental health crisis, substance use concerns, or emotional distress. The resources and support are centered on Indigenous people's traditions, wisdom, and lived experiences.
“Calling the Native and Strong Lifeline is just like talking to one of your cousins, aunties, or uncles,” said Valarie Moon, Native and Strong Lifeline shift lead. “I want all the Native people to remember that before colonialism, we were connected and dependent on our relatives to survive, and it was not shameful. We care about every single Native person out there going through a hard time, and we want to try to provide you with mechanisms to feel your sadness, anger, or grief.”
Native people have higher rates of suicide than the general population in Washington state. But suicide is preventable, and culturally affirming support can make a difference. “I had a 14-year-old boy wanting to die by suicide, and I was able to share the loss of my 18-year-old son with him,” said Robert Coberly, Native and Strong Lifeline employee. “He heard me and told me, ‘I don't want to put my parents through what you are going through.’”