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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.

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

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. Do Something CEO Nancy Lublin states that as members increasingly sent deeply personal text messages, she saw a need for a separate channel for these messages in order to better assist the young people sending them. In public appearances, Lublin specifically cites a series of texts reading "He won't stop raping me... It's my dad." as an impetus for creating Crisis Text Line.[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] Today, 350 people text the service daily, most of whom discovered the service through word-of-mouth.[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] Publicity for the move, including a high-profile blog post by Richard Branson, prompted AT&T to follow suit.[5] 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. A text message to the service reading, "I can't call suicide hotlines because I can't hear, so I was hoping I could use this service" was mentioned as an inspiration for this announcement. Specifically, the blog post mentioned accessible training for Crisis Counselors, and creating education around working with Deaf texters.[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. Speaking about the difference between Crisis Text Line's corpus and other mental health data, he said, "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. It’s people remembering." [8]

In March 2017, Crisis Text Line announced that it was now offering its service via Facebook Messenger. [9]

Crisis Text Line exchanged its 100 millionth message with a person in crisis in March 2019, five and half years after its launch. Current estimates suggest that they will pass their next 100 million messages by mid-2020. [10]

On May 9th 2019, Crisis Text Line launched its United Kingdom affiliate, Shout, with the Heads Together Foundation—the philanthropic branch of the Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge as well as Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. [11]

Crisis CounselorsEdit

Crisis Counselors are all at least eighteen years old, and are selected through an application process.[12] Once selected, they are required to submit a background check, complete thirty hours of training, and pass a final evaluation. Graduated Crisis Counselors commit to 200 total volunteer hours.[13]


In order to ensure best practices and effectiveness in training, counseling, technological development, and organizational structure, Crisis Text Line consults with both a board of directors and an expert National Advisory Board.

The board of directors includes founder/CEO Nancy Lublin; danah boyd, Ph.D., the principal researcher at Microsoft research; and David Drummond of Google.[14]

Data and Crisistrends.orgEdit

A map depicting frequency of anxiety in the United States, made using Crisis Text Line data and available on in August 2014 is a product of Crisis Text Line that, using data derived from the text messages received, compiles and provides information about crises in the United States. Describing potential uses of this data, Lublin told Glamour, "If you know anxiety peaks from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, schools could schedule their guidance counselors to be available then".[3] was launched in August 2014. Data on are anonymized.

Repeat TextersEdit

In late 2014, Chief Data Scientist Bob Filbin discovered that 3 percent of texters were using 34 percent of organization resources. "Over the next six months, he helped find ways to identify them and move them on to services that could more effectively help them," reports Colgate Scene.[15] It was estimated that the change led to 24,000 additional texters helped in 2015.

Topic-Specific FindingsEdit

In December 2015, Crisis Text Line made headlines by releasing data that implied that bullying and harassment against Muslims was on the rise. Lublin was quoted as saying, "These political scare tactics have real implications on everyday Americans."[16]

Crisis Text Line experienced a noteworthy increase in volume immediately after Donald Trump's election as President of the United States.[17] Specifically, the data revealed that "election" and "scared" were the words that overindexed most in the days after the election, and that the word "scared" was most frequently associated with LGBTQ texters.

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]

Predictive dataEdit

Lublin told Wired that the data are helping counselors by using keywords to predict the subject matter of a conversation. A profile reads: "As the software analyzes incoming texts, it can send counselors targeted messages like, 'There’s a 99 percent chance this texter has a substance abuse issue. Here are three rehab programs within the texter’s area code.'" [20]

Enclave dataEdit

In 2016, Crisis Text Line launched enclave data, available to university researchers and research institutions. Interested researchers were able to apply for selective pulls of conversation data. Texters have the option to opt out completely of being included in this data.[21] The program was discontinued in 2017 and relaunched in 2018 as Open Data Collaborations.


Crisis Text Line has launched its service in Canada with affiliate Kids Help Phone, and the United Kingdom with Mental Health Innovations, in partnership with Heads Together and the The Royal Foundation.


  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. "Carriers Waive Charges for Crisis Text Line". re/code. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Branson, Richard. "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. "Finally, a Crisis Hotline the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community Can Use". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Wallace, Nicole. "Bob Filbin: Counting Texts, Saving Lives". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley. "Facebook Wants to Get Smarter About Suicide Prevention". Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Retrieved May 10, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce New Project Together". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Volunteer | Crisis Text Line". Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  12. ^ Gregory, Alice (February 9, 2015). "R U There?". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "Board of Directors". Crisis Text Line. 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.
  19. ^ Hempel, Jessi. "Texts From Teens Build Real-Time Maps of Crisis in America". Wired. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "Enclave Data FAQ - Crisis Text Line". Retrieved January 6, 2017.

External linksEdit