Crisis Text Line

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Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line logo.png
FoundersNancy Lublin & Bob Filbin
Founded atNew York, NY
PurposeCrisis intervention
HeadquartersNew York City, United States

Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization providing free crisis intervention via SMS message. The organization's services are available 24 hours a day every day, throughout the US by texting 741741, Canada by texting 686868, and the United Kingdom by texting 85258.

As of March 26, 2019, Crisis Text Line has processed 100 million text messages.[1]

The text line is notable among hotlines for its triage system, in which conversations are assessed by an algorithm for severity and queued accordingly.[2]


Crisis Text Line was conceptualized as a result of Do Something's mobile interactions with its members.[2]

The service was given a quiet launch in August 2013 through a text message to Do Something members in Chicago and El Paso, and was soon being used by texters in every United States area code.[2] By 2015, they were being contacted by more than 350 texters-in-crisis every day. [3]

In July 2015, it was announced that Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would be waiving fees for use of the service, and that texts to Crisis Text Line would not appear on billing records.[4] AT&T then followed suit.[5] In addition, each mobile carrier omits the texts to the hotline from billing records to avoid alerting abusive family members.[6]

In September 2015, Crisis Text Line announced via the Do Something blog that it would be taking steps to become a resource for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing including training and education for its Crisis Counselors.[7]

Chief Data Scientist Bob Filbin was highlighted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of their 40 Under 40 for his work using data to inform Crisis Text Line's efforts. "This is people in their greatest moment of crisis. Most of the other data on mental health and crisis is survey data, which is collected after the fact." [8]

In March 2017, Crisis Text Line began offering its services via Facebook Messenger and reported passing its 100 million message milestone in March 2019. [9][10]

In May 2019, they launched their United Kingdom affiliate, Shout, with the Heads Together Foundation. [11]


Crisis Counselors are at least eighteen years old, and must apply for acceptance into the training program. They are required to submit a background check, complete thirty hours of training, and pass a final evaluation. Graduated Crisis Counselors commit to a minimum of 200 volunteer hours.[12]

Their board of directors includes founder/CEO Nancy Lublin; danah boyd, Ph.D., the principal researcher at Microsoft research; and David Drummond of Google.[13]

Data Collection[edit]

A map depicting frequency of anxiety in the United States, made using Crisis Text Line data and available on in August 2014 was launched in August 2014 to collect and analyze anonymous data derived from the activities of the Crisis Text Line platform and activities.[3] The data helps counselors by using keywords to predict the subject matter of a conversation.[14]

In 2014, they found that 3 percent of texters were using 34 percent of organization resources prompting the development of systems to address this imbalance in resource application.[15]

Crisis trends[edit]

In December 2015, Crisis Text Line releasing data indicating that bullying and harassment against Muslims was on the rise. [16] They experienced a noteworthy increase in volume immediately after Donald Trump's election as President of the United States.[17]

The Wall Street Journal reported on Crisis Text Line's data about prom-related crises, noting that financial concerns were the most prevalent cause of prom-related conversations with the service.[18]

Analysis of the service's data around military texters revealed that active duty service members and veterans make up 2.4% of texters, and that these texters are more likely to be struggling with suicidal ideation or substance abuse.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Lublin, Nancy. "Texting that saves lives". TED. TED. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Alex. "How Crisis Text Line Founder Nancy Lublin Is Saving Lives, Text by Text". Glamour. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  3. ^ Fried, Ina (July 7, 2015). "Carriers Waive Charges for Crisis Text Line". re/code. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Branson, Richard (July 10, 2015). "Texting in a Crisis: The Inspiring Story of Nancy Lublin".
  5. ^ "What the Best Nonprofits Know About Strategy". Harvard Business Review. August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Wolf, Jared (September 15, 2015). "Finally, a Crisis Hotline the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community Can Use". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Wallace, Nicole (January 5, 2016). "Bob Filbin: Counting Texts, Saving Lives". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley (March 2017). "Facebook Wants to Get Smarter About Suicide Prevention". Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  9. ^ "100 Million Messages — the Cool Calm". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  10. ^ "Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce New Project Together". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  11. ^ Gregory, Alice (February 9, 2015). "R U There?". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". Crisis Text Line. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  13. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "Texts From Teens Build Real-Time Maps of Crisis in America". Wired. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  14. ^ Gusman, Phil (Spring 2015). "Safety in numbers". Colagate Scene. Colgate University. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  15. ^ Stelter, Brian (December 9, 2015). "Muslim bullying fears on the rise, hotline says". CNN Money. CNN. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Ravitz, Jessica (November 11, 2016). "Calls to crisis and suicide prevention hotlines surge post-election". CNN. CNN. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Rappaport, Liz. "Dial Down the Stress of Prom". Wired. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  18. ^ Anderson, John. "R U there? Crisis Text Line provides new lifeline for troops and veterans". Military Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.

External links[edit]