Crisis Text Line

Whether it’s depression, job stress or a bad breakup, texters can share whatever is on their minds with a trained Crisis Counselor. The service is free and confidential. It works by texting HOME to 741741.

This study used data from Crisis Text Line, the largest provider of crisis text-based services in the United States. The researchers analyzed anonymized and de-identified CC reports and voluntary texter surveys.

Texting in a Crisis

For many people, it can be difficult to say the words – “I’m having a hard time” or “I need help.” Texting, however, can be easier for those in crisis. A growing number of crisis lines provide support via text.

To reach the Crisis Text Line, text REACH to 741 741 from anywhere in the US. Messages are responded to by trained volunteers, called Crisis Counselors, 24/7. The service is free and data usage is not charged.

Texters can text about anything – whether they’ve failed an exam, broken up with a partner, or had a panic attack in public. Volunteers are trained to support anyone who needs it through empathetic and compassionate conversations. AFSP’s research has found that texters who receive help from Crisis Text Line are more hopeful, less depressed and overwhelmed, and less suicidal after the conversation. They also report that their CCs are genuinely concerned about them. The results suggest that this type of service could be helpful for people from diverse communities and backgrounds.

Texting for Support

There are two main crisis lines in the US: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line. Both are available to anyone in the country by sending a message to their respective numbers via text or Facebook messenger. Facebook communications are encrypted and anonymized, so the counselors don’t have access to your profile or other identifying information.

Counselors are trained to empathize with texters, rather than interrogate them or ask probing questions. They help texters de-escalate their situation and identify local resources, though they will alert emergency services in the rare case of a person being in imminent danger.

The organization aims to connect the most vulnerable and distressed texters with appropriate services. In fact, it only engages emergency services in less than 1% of crises. And remember: a crisis isn’t necessarily a suicide attempt or a violent incident; it can be anything from work stress to a bad breakup. Even the most seemingly small issues can feel overwhelming.

Texting a Friend

Sometimes it takes more than a text to reach out. If your friend has been acting distant and you want to give them a reminder that you care, start with something silly or random. For example, you might text them, “Just saw a pigeon carrying an empty bag of Doritos and it reminded me of you.” This will make them laugh and will also help jog their memory.

You could also try asking them a question about something specific, like their day or what they’re up to this weekend. Remember, though, it’s important not to point fingers or put the other person on the defensive. A direct statement is more effective than a question, says Davidovits. And be sure to use emojis! That’s always a great way to add some personality and set the tone for a light-hearted, playful conversation. It might even encourage them to respond, if they’re feeling shy or haven’t responded to your last few texts.

Texting the Steve Fund

Many young people struggle with mental health, but some do not seek help or wait until they are in crisis. For those who need help, texting the Steve Fund can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s about a relationship problem, a breakup, or suicidal thoughts, a counselor is there to listen and offer support. The service is free and confidential, and students don’t have to give their name or any identifying information.

Text STEVE to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. The Steve Fund views this service as a critical piece of its strategy to address the unmet needs of college and university students of color.

Crisis Text Line is the first national, 24/7 text-based crisis support service. It is powered by Kids Help Phone and provides empathy and innovation to help people in distress. They partner with other organizations, like the Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline, to help people who have specific needs.