Icest phone chat lines with real people
Nancy Lublin, who founded Dress for Success and ran the volunteer organization Do Something.org, says there is another option.
Users who text 741-741 will reach her latest endeavor, the Crisis Text Line.
They’ve been trained not for text, not by our organization. We have 50 deaf and hard-of-hearing crisis counselors. There aren’t that many volunteer opportunities if you’re deaf, and so that’s pretty fantastic. The veterans are fantastic when there’s a spike in volume. Someone texts in, and they’re really hot about something. The whole organization’s going to be like, “Come on, Nancy! What’s interesting is it’s a new technology applied to an old space. These protocols have existed for a very long time—risk assessments and mandatory reporting and all that stuff. We can do things like look at time stamps and see if you’re a little bit delayed.
There’s a global chat function where the counselors can all talk to each other. Our hope is to get you from that hot moment to a cool moment by the end of the conversation. 4% of the time, what’s needed is an offline referral—for a rape kit, drug clinic or some kind of in-patient program. I don’t think I could do it, which is one of the reasons it’s such a privilege for me to lead the organization. I read through the conversations sometimes and think, “Oh, that was such a smart thing to say.” I am considering going through the training this summer. Does it take you longer to respond to someone who’s LGBTQ?
Being able to listen to our protocols and our rules and policies and things like that. What are some examples of text messages your counselors field and how they help resolve them?
There are people who have come to us with lots of fancy training—Ph Ds in psychology. The majority of situations get resolved within 40 to 60 messages. We do quality control, and we can see who’s a great crisis counselor.
The volunteer counseling service has processed over 14 million messages since Lublin founded it in 2013.
I spoke with Lublin recently about the dire situation that inspired the Crisis Text Line, the importance of self-care, the kindness of strangers, and the right—and wrong—way to use big data. I really thought it would be all young people, and I thought it’d all be bullying.
You’re aggregating tons of data: the types of texts that are coming in, when they’re coming in, the topics that they’re covering.
Then, there are the messages that are imminent risk, and we do a risk assessment. Maybe you have some latent homophobia you’re not even aware of that makes you struggle to communicate with LGBTQ texters.
Ideation: “I want to kill myself.” A plan: “I’m going to take pills.” The means: “I have a prescription.” And timing: “The pills are in front of me on the desk.” Then, it’s really up to the crisis counselor to try and knock away the timing and say, “Well, how about you put the pills in the desk drawer while we communicate? Are there word choices that you use that are better than others?
There have been some douchey finance people who have contacted me asking me if they could buy the data to trade on. No, more like, “You probably know when there’s something like a shooting or a drug epidemic.
We want to find out so we can trade on it first.” It’s just gross, so I said, “No, that’s not how this is going to go down.” Instead, we use the data to make us faster and better and to make the world better.