Lines for Life is excited to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2023! Over our three decades of service, we’ve grown to a team of over 200 professionals, with services spanning substance use and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention – and we’re regarded as leaders among our state and regional networks.
But first, let’s reflect on what got us here. Read on to explore the history of Lines for Life.
The Beginning: Oregon Partnership
In 1993, three organizations merged to form the Oregon Partnership with a focus on substance abuse intervention and prevention. What later became Lines for Life started with a single service – the Oregon Alcohol & Drug Helpline – launched by Founder Judy Cushing in 1985.
Students teamed up with Oregon Partnership to create the YouthLine peer-to-peer helpline & volunteer program.
Oregon Partnership expanded its focus from substance abuse intervention and prevention to include suicide prevention. As a result, it began answering calls to Hopeline/National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A New Age: Lines for Life is Born
2011 marked the launch of the Military Helpline, a free and confidential service offered to all military-connected community members. The Military Helpline kicked off our ongoing commitment to support those who serve and those with any affiliation to the military.
In 2012, Oregon Partnership changed its name to Lines for Life, began our partnership with Veterans Crisis Line, and started contracting after-hours services for other helplines.
After serving as Lines for Life’s CEO for 20 years, Founder Judy Cushing retired in 2013. Following in her footsteps, Dwight Holton became Lines for Life’s current CEO.
Stakeholders statewide begin to gather to discuss prevention and treatment for opioid & other drug use, paving the way for the first Oregon Conference on Opioids + Other Drugs, Pain + Addiction Treatment (OPAT).
The Momentum Builds
Lines for Life became a Veterans Crisis Line Ambassador Center and started planning for our YouthLine program to expand into Central Oregon.
Lines for Life added “promoting mental wellness” to our mission, which continues to be a primary focus as we provide help, hope, and healing to communities across Oregon and beyond. We began our Cultural Engagement Initiative in communities of color, launched the Senior Loneliness Line, expanded YouthLine into Central Oregon, and formed the Construction Suicide Prevention Partnership.
April 2019 also transformed the way newsrooms think about, approach, and report on suicide and suicide prevention, as we partnered with Oregon Public Broadcasting and other media partners to organize Breaking the Silence, a weeklong, statewide media blitz around suicide prevention stories.
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted crisis line work to home offices across the country in 2020. During this time, Lines for Life launched Behavioral Health Support Line, Racial Equity Support Line, and expanded Senior Loneliness Line to a statewide service.
Community leaders and Lines for Life came together in 2021 to co-host the first ever Healing Summit, focused on addressing the impacts of trauma, violence, and grief in Black & Brown communities in the Portland area.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline became the nationwide 3-digit number for mental health crisis. Lines for Life became Oregon’s Home for 988, in addition to providing backup for calls across the nation.
In the continued move toward expanding our YouthLine program, Lines for Life, in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, dedicated a satellite YouthLine call center on the Warm Springs reservation in Central Oregon.
The Future of Lines for Life
2023 & Beyond
Lines for Life hosted our first annual Barbershop Conversation – a unique strategy of promoting mental wellness in Black community spaces – in partnership with Kingdom Kuts, a local barbershop in Portland, Oregon. Our goal is to provide culturally responsive mental health support that addresses the issues that directly affect communities of color.
While more contacts are already reaching out for support, Lines for Life is excited to be a part of the still-unfolding transformation of crisis intervention services nationwide with 988 – and helping to inform how these changes will look in Oregon.