The Alex Project – Info about New Ways for Youth in Crisis to Reach Help


Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24. We lost Alex Strauss to suicide on October 11, 2010. He was only 17 years old. Alex was a high achieving senior at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, California. He had a loving family and friends. Alex always had a silly joke or pun ready. He volunteered as a math tutor, was working on electric car designs with his dad and had plans to travel on vacation to Alaska with his family after high school graduation. Then, he would be off to college. All that disintegrated on October 11, 2010.

Before he died, Alex tried multiple times to text for help using his cell phone. Like many young people today, Alex was more comfortable communicating privately via texts than talking on the phone. Unfortunately Alex’s texts for help were not immediately answered because he sent them at night when their recipients were asleep. Had he known there was a crisis center open 24×7 that would have welcomed a text from him, Alex might still be alive today.

Alex’s story is not unique. Spreading the word about texting access to crisis center services will save young lives. Texting is discreet, accessible, and familiar for a young person in crisis. In addition, for all of us, looking out for friends and loved ones, taking the warning signs seriously, and knowing how to respond are all important parts of preventing suicide. “Know the Signs.”


Give all youth in crisis the chance to reach life-saving help via texting regardless of where they live.

HOW Crisis Text Line WORKS

This is how our crisis text line works to help you or your family who face a crisis in life:

  1. You or anyone else may text 741741 when in crisis. Anywhere, anytime.
  2. You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is.
  3. A live trained crisis counselor will answer your text within minutes. The counselor will help you out of your moment of crisis using effective active listening and suggested referrals, and will work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better, all through text messages using CTL’s secure platform.
  4. CTL is completely anonymous. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. CTL takes your anonymity seriously.
  5. CTL is free to texters, although standard text message rates apply.

Crisis Text Line STANDARDS

  1. Fight for the texter. CTL’s first priority is helping people move from a hot moment to a cool calm, guiding them to create a plan to stay safe and healthy. People who need help are their first priority.
  2. Great crisis counseling requires great crisis counselors. CTL provides a platform that allows their specialists to do their best possible work. They are proud that their platform is stable and very easy to use. And, while CTL loves data and data science, CTL believes in a human centric approach. (Read: CTL doesn’t think robots make great crisis counselors.)


CTL has three types of crisis counselors:

  1. Rigorously trained volunteers who graduate from a 34 hour training program designed in partnership with experts at Common Ground. Training includes video lessons, readings, role plays and feedback, as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation.
  2. Crisis center partners, which are existing organizations that are experienced and well equipped in crisis counseling.
  3. Experienced supervisors who oversee crisis counselors. They offer guidance and support with a focus on high-risk conversations.

Find Out More