A dedicated Indigenous crisis center integrated with the state’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline system.
EVERETT, Wash. — According to the U.S. Department of Health, the rate of Indigenous deaths by suicide is 20% higher than the rest of the population.
In response, the country’s first Indigenous Crisis Hotline was opened in Washington state.
Indigenous peoples in need can call the crisis line and speak to local counselors. The system is integrated with the state’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline system.
The people there are credited with saving countless lives.
Native and powerful Lifeline
At an office in Everett, every call is a matter of life and death.
“One person called and he wanted to kill himself,” said Robert Coberly, one of 15 Indigenous crisis counselors at the Native and Strong lifeline. He’s younger and I have to share my story about my son.”
All 15 advisors are registered tribal members representing diverse communities and experiences.
For Coberly, what he heard on that phone call was an expression of the pain he was so familiar with. His own son was killed three years ago.
“(The caller) heard me, he said, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to do that to my mom or dad,’” Coberly said. “I’m just trying to help stop another parent or anyone else going through what I’m going through.”
The center receives between 10-30 calls per day and that is with minimal advertising or outreach, just by word of mouth referrals.
“People are sharing milestones they’ve hit, you know, ‘I’m clean these days’ or, you know, ‘I didn’t have any crises this week,'” Heaven Crisis line, said Arbuckle-Hatchett, a counselor at the center. them, and we have to ask them for help.”
Arbuckle-Hatchett started working as a counselor after leaving a bad relationship due to domestic violence.
Arbuckle-Hatchett says sharing a cultural identity with callers makes it easier for them to open up and accept help.
“We understand,” said Arbuckle-Hatchett. “That’s the best explanation I know of. We understand the generational traumas people may be going through. When it comes to sexual assault cases, it’s really hard for people to talk about it, especially with the local culture.
Data compiled by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence shows that American Indians are two and a half times more likely to commit sexual assault than all other races, and that American Indians are two and a half times more likely to commit sexual assault than all other races, and that American Indians are two and a half times more likely to commit sexual assault. There was one person who reported being raped during his lifetime.
A mental health crisis
The launch of the crisis line comes as Indigenous communities are also facing a mental health crisis. According to the US Department of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indigenous people between the ages of 10 and 34.
“People ask ‘What makes your population so special?’ right?” said Rochelle Williams, Tribal CEO. “Like, we’re not so special, it’s our suicide rate that’s really going up. A report has just come out that our suicide rate is going up, while other populations are going down.”
Williams said counselors recommend traditional Indigenous medicines and practices to callers when appropriate.
“Some of the things that people like to do are sweat,” says Arbuckle-Hatchett.
“It’s a cure for them. Another thing is, people do what’s called a sage. you can… take all the bad energy away from you.”
“Take care of your Indians,” says Coberly. That’s what my mother told me.”
Several states are currently in talks to launch their own Indigenous crisis lines. Meanwhile, each of Coberly’s calls and Arbuckle-Hatchett’s answer also brought them closer to healing.
“It takes away the power of hurt and pain,” says Coberly. Talking about it makes me feel better. And so in doing this work, it’s like a full circle, you know, I can help somebody.”
“Yes, we are helping people, but I don’t think people realize that they also help us every day,” says Arbuckle-Hatchett.
To contact the Native Strong Crisis hotline, call 9-8-8 and press 4 when prompted.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit Vibrant emotional health‘S Safe space for digital resources.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, text START to 88788 or visit thehotline.org for additional instructions and resources.
Sightseeing Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website for more local resources.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/community/facing-race/native-crisis-line-suicide-rates-increasing/281-f00f77ca-313b-4ec4-9d51-f459eca96b7d Washington crisis line solution as Native suicide rates increase