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California’s First-Ever 988 Tribal Summit Connects Southern California Native American Communities With Suicide Prevention Resources



MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION, Calif. – Feb. 3, 2023 – Today Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino) and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, the leader of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in California and home of the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center, hosted the inaugural “CA 988 Tribal Summit, Southern California Convening” bringing tribes and mental health service providers together for suicide prevention.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the suicide death rate for American Indian and Alaska Native populations is higher than that of the overall U.S. population for males and females. The national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was introduced in July 2022 and serves as a confidential 24/7 resource to individuals in crisis or people calling on behalf of someone they know. The Summit highlighted 988 as a resource available to tribal communities for individuals in crisis.

“Suicide is a public health crisis among American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” shared Assemblymember Ramos. “This Summit is helping agencies that serve tribal communities better understand the unique needs of these populations and how suicide prevention work must be grounded in cultural understanding.”

“Today’s 988 Tribal Summit in Southern California is the beginning of an ongoing conversation with our tribal communities around suicide prevention and care,” said Shari Sinwelski, vice president of crisis care at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. “As the lead agency in California for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, Didi Hirsch understands that suicide prevention work must be informed by each community’s unique needs, cultural practices, and beliefs. We hope to establish relationships between local tribes and the crisis call centers so that when this population calls the 988 Lifeline the crisis counselors know how to best support them in a culturally sensitive way.”

Additional partners for the 988 Tribal Summit included the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc., California Department of Health Care Services, United American Indian Involvement Los Angeles, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The 988 Tribal Summit created a space for deep listening among tribal communities and the agencies that offer services to them. Engaging panels, speaker presentations, and thought-provoking small group listening sessions centered community and trust-building to help increase awareness and understanding of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and address barriers to care.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7, multilingual call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crises, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also contact 988 if they are worried about someone in their life who may need crisis support. 988 is lifesaving resource; recent data from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services shows more than 93 percent of crises are successfully resolved by their compassionate counselors without the need for further intervention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call, text, or chat 988 for free and confidential support. Visit www.crisiscare.org for more information on Didi Hirsch crisis counseling services.


Assemblymember James C. Ramos proudly represents the 45th Assembly district which includes Fontana, Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature. Ramos chairs the Assembly Committees on Rules.

About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
For more than 80 years, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has served as a national leader in whole-person mental health, crisis care and substance use services. With deep roots in community-based mental health, Didi Hirsch is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing health equity, especially where poverty or stigma limits access to care. As a pioneer in suicide prevention and crisis care for all ages, Didi Hirsch founded the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles in 1958, leads the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline across California, oversees Teen Line, and is one of five operators for the national Disaster Distress Helpline. In addition to providing multilingual crisis care support, the Suicide Prevention Center serves as a model of care internationally and offers outpatient therapy, support groups for survivors of suicide loss and suicide attempts and suicide prevention trainings. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.

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