Texting That Saves Lives
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Politics and Activism

Texting That Saves Lives

Crisis Textline is a free, 24/7 emotional support to those in crisis.

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Texting That Saves Lives

In February 2012, Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.org, gave a Ted Talk in Long Beach, CA. At the beginning of her talk, she held up a cell phone and said, “To most of you, this is a device to buy, sell, play games, watch videos. I think it might be a lifeline. I think actually it might be able to save more lives than penicillin.”

What she’s talking about is Crisis Text Line (CTL), a platform started by DoSomething.org in response to a need for a text messaging-based crisis hotline for people ages 13-25. Here’s how it works (taken from their website):

1. A teen texts into CTL anywhere, anytime. 

2. A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly. 

3. The specialist helps the teen stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through text message using CTL's platform. 

Over 5.3 million messages have been exchanged since Crisis Text Line launched in August 2013. The specialists that CTL uses are rigorously trained volunteers and employees of actual crisis centers. As a volunteer, I went through over 30 hours of training in addition to eight hours of observation, and had to pass through a series of interviews and a background check before being accepted to the program or allowed on the platform. This whole process took over two months, as volunteers are trained to deal with every conceivable type of crisis.

The way CTL specialists help the texters is through active listening. They do not give advice or serve as a replacement to therapy; rather, they use communication techniques that are empathetic, understanding and respectful with a focus on the texter and their problems.

This service is exceedingly important in a generation that shies away from phone calls and relies on text-based communication. Through CTL, texters remain anonymous and are able to communicate their feelings in a way that is familiar to them. This service could be especially helpful for college students, as we often have this idea that everyone around us has their life together and we don’t want them to know that we’re struggling. This way, no one else has to know unless you want them to.

Another use for CTL is data collection. Lublin said in her Ted Talk, “There is no census on bullying and dating abuse and eating disorders and cutting and rape...Maybe there's some studies, some longitudinal studies, that cost lots of money and took lots of time...Imagine having real time data on every one of those issues. You could inform legislation. You could inform school policy.” 

A website called Crisis Trends advises principals that teens struggle with school issues at an alarming rate on Tuesdays. It informs Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) organizations that teens are most affected by LGBTQ issues in New Mexico, Georgia and Alaska. It cautions counselors that noon is the time of day when teens are most affected by suicidal thoughts.

All someone has to do is text 741-741 at any time of day (the line is open 24 hours a day) to receive crisis counseling and referrals. It can help one through a crisis and it can save lives. 

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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