According to Nancy Lublin, it can and she has the data to prove it.
In 2013 she launched Crisis Text Line, an anonymous, free texting service available to anyone in the United States. Aimed at teens, counselors are available 24/7 to text support for problems like bullying, rape, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and depression.
According to the American Psychological Association, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. And about 15% of college students, in one study, reported self-injuring behavior, like cutting–some were so bad they required medical attention.
Many instances of self-injury, as well as depression, bullying and sexual assault go unreported because of issues like shame, stigma, and fear of retaliation. This is where texting can prove to be a lifeline.
Texting can be completely anonymous. To use Crisis Text Line, you just send a message from anywhere in the U.S. to the number 741-741.
“A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds quickly. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.” — Crisis Text Line (CTL)
In her 2015 TED talk, Lublin explains how messages are prioritized by severity, not just by order received. Certain keywords and texts like “I want to die” jump straight to the front of the cue. If the crisis counselor is able to get a physical address from the texter, they can then generate an active rescue by alerting local EMS. They currently service nearly 300 area codes across America.
Since they launched in 2013, CTL has exchanged nearly 16 million messages and they average 2.41 active rescues a day. Also in that time, CTL has amassed a huge anonymous database that has the potential to save even more lives.
“I’m sitting on the world’s first map of real-time crises,” says Lublin. “I can tell you that the worst day of the week for eating disorders: Monday. The worst time of day for substance abuse: 5am.”
To encourage program development to help those most in need, Lublin has made all of this data free to the public at crisistextline.org. The site has a user-friendly interface where you can see crisis trends over time and by time or day.
You can also find out how your state ranks for individual problems. You will be glad you live in Texas when you find out it is one of the lowest ranked states for anxiety and depression. I guess there is something to that laid-back friendly lifestyle.
If you do suffer from problems like these, though, talk to your doctor; there are many effective treatments available today. Don’t be afraid to reach out–help is out there.
Image credit: © lzf /Adobe Stock