According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Native Americans and Alaska Natives are affected by suicide at a rate disproportionate to the general U.S. population. Recently, federal grants administered through SAMHSA are providing resources to support 988 tribal response in indigenous communities.
Catawba Nation, headquartered in Rock Hill, SC intends to draw on these resources to open its own 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline facility and mobile crisis unit. The Nation recently hired a 988 Tribal Response Crisis Counselor who has met with staff from both MHAGC’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and SC DMH’s mobile crisis unit to begin planning and learning about the existing systems.
The Nation intends to model its program on Washington State’s Native and Strong Lifeline, a first-of-its-kind program dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native people. Following this model, calls to the Catawba Nation’s lifeline would be answered by tribal members with both lived experience in the Nation and training in crisis intervention.
The process of planning for, building up, and implementing a new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline will take time. Coleman says she’s happy to “help bridge the gap and support creating this service” and has enjoyed learning about the Nation’s needs and plans and working with their Tribal Counselor in these initial stages of planning.
For those interested in learning more about efforts to support mental health and suicide prevention for and by Native people, check out the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s American Indian/Alaska Native Settings page. For youth, see the We R Native website and resource list linked to the right.