Crisis Text Line

Texting can be a safe and convenient way to access free, anonymous support. Crisis counselors are available 24/7. Just text Got5 to 741741 or GOT5U to 741741 if you’re a college student.

To understand the population served by crisis services via text messaging, this study analyzes anonymized and de-identified CC reports and voluntary texter surveys for all conversations initiated 10 or more times over a year.

What is Crisis Text Line?

Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 crisis support service. When someone in crisis texts HOME to 741741, they are connected with a trained Crisis Counselor who can help them cope with whatever is troubling them. Whether it’s job stress, bullying, relationship issues, or suicidal thoughts, counselors are there to listen.

Unlike traditional phone-based suicide prevention services, CTL’s conversational model is based on text messaging—the medium that most people use to communicate in their daily lives. Trained volunteer Crisis Counselors (CCs) receive 30 h of interactive training in reflective listening skills, risk assessment, collaborative problem solving, and action planning, and are monitored by full-time staff who supervise them remotely.

Despite their high rates of depression and anxiety, nearly half of all texters who reported feeling suicidal said they felt less so after their conversation with a CC. This reduction in suicidality is comparable to the improvements seen in Lifeline crisis chat interventions (Gould et al., 2021).

How does Crisis Text Line work?

Crisis Text Line volunteers work together to help you work through your tough times and access local resources. It’s free, safe and confidential. You can start a conversation by texting HOME to 741741.

Crisis Counselors (CCs) use active listening and problem solving skills to de-escalate your situation and create a safety plan for you. They may ask about your family, friends, housing and work to better understand what you’re experiencing. CCs also use “issue tags” to characterize the topics discussed in your conversation, such as suicide ideation or physical health concerns.

We know from previous research that a majority of texters have experienced depression and/or anxiety in the past two weeks, and most report thoughts of suicide or self-harm in their conversations with CCs. Almost all of our texters have no other source of help when they contact a Crisis Text Line. They often call or text multiple times throughout the year. The findings from this study support the importance of developing interventions designed to link people who contact crisis lines with existing services.

What can I expect from a Crisis Text Line conversation?

Upon texting in, a person will be connected with a counselor who will introduce themselves and invite them to share at their own pace. The goal of the conversation is to get a person to a calm, safe place. Sometimes that means providing them with resources, and sometimes it simply means listening. A typical conversation lasts for about 45 minutes.

During training, Crisis Counselors are trained in how to best support someone who is struggling. They also learn about the unique challenges of providing crisis intervention over text, including how to respond to a texter who may have plans for self harm.

It is important to note that volunteers are not allowed to discuss political issues or affiliations, religious matters, sexual orientation or gender identity, and other topics that fall outside of their Crisis Counselor training. It is also critical that volunteers stay in contact with their assigned Supervisors and Coaches throughout their time on the platform.

What can I do to prepare for a Crisis Text Line conversation?

To become a Crisis Text Line volunteer, you must complete an online course and pass a background check. You also need to consent to Crisis Text Line’s use of your information and data.

During training, you’ll learn to listen with compassion and empathy while also providing the right resources at the right time. You’ll be encouraged to ask questions about the texter’s current situation and what they are trying to work through. You’ll be trained to stay focused on the present moment (not your own experiences), and to avoid using your conversation as an opportunity to discuss religious matters or partisan politics.

When a texter has an emergency, you’ll be asked to respond quickly and efficiently. You may need to offer a few options for emergency services, or you might need to help them calm down and find safer ways to cope. The goal is always to get them to a safe place, which can mean a back-and-forth texting conversation or sending them a link to other resources.