On August 1, 1963, a 12-year-old girl 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.
In 1993, 16-year-old Audra Letnes died at the hands of a boyfriend who had abused her for over a year. Estranged from her friends and afraid to tell her mother what was happening, Audra kept to herself. Audra’s inability to tell those closest to her what was happening in her life sadly reflects the way too many teens feel today. If only there was some way they could talk to someone their own age, tell them about their problems, and still retain their privacy. Because of Audra’s murder and Crisis Clinic’s dedication to the youth in our community, Teen Link was created – a help line for and by teens in King County. Today, Teen Link answers calls from teens in need and also makes youth suicide prevention presentations at schools throughout the 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.
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.