Whether you are feeling anxious, depressed or suicidal, dealing with the urge to self-harm, or are experiencing any other feelings and need help moving from a hot moment to a cool calm: you are not alone. Crisis Text Line is there for you.
How Does It Work?
Crisis Text Line provides free support at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The nonprofit organization uses technology to aid in getting texters support in a timely manner. An algorithm reviews each conversation based on severity and texters who are considered imminent risk, or are in immediate danger of suicide or homicide, get placed at the top of the queue. Once texters are placed in the queue, a Crisis Counselor (in the United States) or a Crisis Responder (in Canada) will connect with them quickly. Each texter, no matter the reason they are texting in, receives the same support from trained Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders.
When you send “VOICE” to 741741 (in the United States) or 686868 (in Canada), you will receive an automated text message that asks more about your crisis. Depending on the time of day or day of the week, and how many texters are reaching out for support at that moment, it might take a moment for a Crisis Counselor or Crisis Responder to respond. However, please know that someone is on the other end and that they are willing to talk.
Once you are connected with a Crisis Counselor or Crisis Responder, they will introduce themselves and ask you more about what led you to text Crisis Text Line. Together, you can work through the crisis and move from a hot moment to a cool calm. Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders build rapport with each texter, explore the problem, and help texters come up with self-care ideas and safety plans. In addition to that, they can provide texters with resources if they would like further information.
Who Am I Talking To?
Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders are over the age of 18, have gone through a background check, and completed 34 hours of training. They can come from any background – the only requirement is that they are empathetic individuals who have a passion for supporting others. Currently, there are more than 4,500 active Crisis Counselors (in the United States) stationed in several different countries across the world. Each Crisis Counselor and Crisis Responder are assigned a supervisor on each shift. Each supervisor has a master’s degree in social work, psychology, or a related field.
How Do I Reach Crisis Text Line?
If you’re in the United States and want to text with a trained Crisis Counselor, text VOICE to 741741. If you’re in Canada and want to text with a trained Crisis Responder, text VOICE to 686868. The service is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If texters use a certain keyword, such as VOICE, the Crisis Counselor or Crisis Responder receives information about the keyword (which organization it’s associated with, the issues the organization tackles, and who the organization serves). If you want to talk about something other than rape and/or sexual abuse, please know that you can still use VOICE for your initial text message; this information helps Crisis Text Line know how you heard about their service.
Crisis Text Line is available whenever you are in crisis but is not meant to serve as a long-term counseling service. Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders are committed to helping you move from a hot moment to a cool calm, no matter the crisis; they pride themselves in helping texters come up with skills to guide them to stay safe. In addition to that, Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders lend a listening ear when texters are in need. They are just one text away. You are never alone.
Are your volunteers just a robot?
Crisis Text Line believes that every person deserves a human response. After the first few automated messages, you will be introduced to a real, live person. We are willing to do math equations or trivia questions – but we hope that you will just take our word for it!
If I say I am suicidal, is the Crisis Counselor or Crisis Responder going to call the police?
Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders want to help make sure you can stay safe. Telling us that you are suicidal is not going to trigger an automatic call to authorities. While our hope is to work together to come up with a safety plan to help you stay safe, if you are unwilling or unable to come up with a plan, emergency services may be called by a supervisor. This is a last resort, as Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders are trained to help walk you through the crisis to a calm, cool place.
If I mention I was sexually assaulted or abused, will Crisis Counselors or Crisis Responders force me to make a report?
While our Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders are mandatory reporters (for anyone under the age of 18), they will not report anything you do not want them to report. They would need several key pieces of information to make a report – that you could either agree or decline to give them. Either way, Crisis Counselors and Crisis Responders will continue supporting you through your crisis – with or without filing a report. That is up to you.
Is there a time limit on conversations?
No, there is no set time limit; however, we are not meant to serve as long-term therapy. Our goal is to help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment. Once that’s accomplished, we feel it is best you go ahead with the plan we have developed together to help keep yourself safe.
About the Authors:
This piece was written by AVFTI DayCaptains Ashley and Stephanie, who are also Crisis Counselors with Crisis Text Line. They would like you to know that each Crisis Counselor on the other end of the line is a real person.
Ashley would like to earn a Master’s Degree in social work. Outside of volunteering, she enjoys watching movies; doing Zumba; and spending time with her dog. In the past, she has worked with children.
Stephanie has a goal of visiting all seven continents. Her current count is at four – having visited North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa – she is more than halfway to her goal. She also owns a retired show dog and loves to go biking.