Crisis Clinic is at the heart of the Seattle-King County safety net providing a broad array of telephone-based crisis intervention and information and referral services. For many people in emotional distress or needing community services assistance, we are their “first call for help.” Each year, we improve the lives of thousands of people by listening, caring and linking to services. “When you need us, we’re here!”
On August 1, 1963, 12-year-old Jill Marie Patten was stabbed by a letter carrier. It was later discovered that the man had talked to several people during the days immediately prior to the attack, mentioning his violent feelings and impulses. The young girl recovered from the assault and her parents felt that something positive should come out of the experience. Believing that the tragedy might have been avoided if the assailant had had someone to turn to for help in managing his anger and homicidal impulses, they decided that a service was needed to meet the needs of people who are distressed, but uncertain about seeking professional help to cope with their difficulties. Thus, family, friends and community members came together to form Crisis Clinic and our 24-Hour Crisis Line.
Crisis Clinic Opens
In March of 1964, Crisis Clinic was listed in the Seattle phone book. For the first two months, members of the Board of Trustees answered phone calls at their places of business and in their homes. In May of that year, the first Crisis Clinic office was opened with a part-time director, two telephones, a typewriter, a desk and two chairs. The first group of community volunteers started answering the Crisis Line phones.
The Slender Thread
Crisis Clinic became nationally known in 1966. Shana Alexander wrote a story for Life magazine about a Seattle woman whose life had been saved by a Crisis Clinic worker. That article became a movie, filmed in Seattle, called The Slender Thread. Starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft, the movie tells the story of a woman who tries to kill herself by swallowing a bottle of pills. She calls the Crisis Clinic and Sidney Poitier tries to keep her on the phone while others go into action to trace the call and save her.
In 1973, at the request of United Way of King County, Crisis Clinic took on the United Way Information and Referral Service, which became the Community Information Line. In 2006, the Community Information Line began using the dialing code, 2-1-1, as part of a statewide effort to increase access to health and human services. It is now called King County 2-1-1.
Teen Link began in 1996, after the tragic death of Audra Letnes, the daughter of a Crisis Clinic employee. Audra was only 16 when she was murdered by her boyfriend who had been abusing her for over a year. Aware of what was happening, her mother tried to get her help, but Audra had difficulty connecting with the services that were available at the time. Like many youth, Audra wasn’t comfortable opening up to the adult-led programs and none of the services provided peer-to-peer support.
Because of her experience working at Crisis Clinic, Audra’s mother knew the power of making one meaningful connection. As a way to ensure this type of tragedy could be prevented in the future, she worked together with Crisis Clinic to develop the Teen Link program in Audra’s memory, a safe place for any young person to connect with other youth for resources and emotional support for whatever comes up in their lives. Today, Teen Link answers calls and online chats from teens needing support and also makes youth suicide prevention presentations at schools throughout King County.
WA Recovery Help Line
In 2011, Crisis Clinic secured a contract from the WA Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DSHS/DBHR) to offer a statewide consolidated help line and we created the WA Recovery Help Line to offer support and referrals to services for people needing substance abuse, problem gambling and mental health help.
Washington Warm Line
In 2013, after several years as a peer-run help line, The Warm Line joined Crisis Clinic believing that was the best option to expand service. The Washington Warm Line offers peer support to people living with a mental illness using the principles of recovery to enhance the well-being of callers.
Crisis Clinic is state licensed by DSHS/DBHR as a crisis telephone service provider and as a certified chemical dependency treatment service—crisis intervention. We are also nationally accredited by CONTACT USA and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems. As one of the oldest crisis lines in the nation, we continue to be committed to providing excellent service to all who contact us.
Our passion is caring and listening; empowering people to make positive life changes. We do this through connections between people and critical resources.
Crisis Clinic connects people in physical, emotional and financial crisis to services that will be of help.
We do this to reduce immediate emotional distress and defuse crises for individuals, families and the community; to reduce the immediate risk of violence to one’s self and others; and to increase the ability of people to access the safety net, particularly for mental and emotional support services.
Crisis Clinic serves all people (in physical, emotional and financial crisis) with an emphasis on serving King County residents.
Volunteers: This means recognizing the contributions of each volunteer, demonstrating appreciation for the time, energy and spirit that each one brings to their work. This also means accepting everyone who volunteers for their uniqueness and what they bring to the job.
Employees: This means recognizing the contributions of each employee, demonstrating appreciation for the time, energy and spirit that each one brings to their work, and offering opportunities for continual growth within the organization. This also means accepting everyone employed here for their uniqueness and what they bring to the job.
Genuine Relationships: This means communicating in an open, truthful and direct manner. It also means being receptive to all ideas and being respectful of everyone’s feelings and thoughts.
Healthy Environment: This mean managing stress with balance and humor, interacting positively with each other, and making space for continual personal growth and education. This also means creating a safe place for the emotional and physical work that we do.
Community Focused: This means looking for new ways to help, always staying on top of new programs, services and trends and keeping abreast of the changing needs of the community. It also means pulling from the community in terms of volunteers and employees, and empowering them with the information and knowledge to help others.
Universal Access: This means opening services to everyone, at any time. It also means offering training to the community, working hard to keep accurate and up-to-date information available and being responsible and frugal with internal resources.
Excellence: This means doing everything to the best of your ability, maintaining high standards for yourself, and the information and help that you are giving. It also means providing complete information in the most effective manner.
Crisis Clinic is a non-profit agency registered with the Secretary of State as a charitable organization. We are state-licensed as an emergency telephone service and chemical dependency provider. We are accredited by the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems and CONTACT USA. Crisis Clinic is an equal opportunity employer and service provider.