Every parent needs to know: teens in crisis can use texting to get immediate, confidential, compassionate crisis help for themselves or for their friends.
Tell your kids.
Be sure your kids all have 741741 entered into their phone contacts.
(Read on to learn more.)
The crisis help comes from Crisistext.org, which provides free, 24/7 crisis counseling support for both teens in crisis and for anyone of any age who needs crisis counseling help.
Crisis Text Line FAQ
Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?
1. Teens in crisis (or anyone of any age) can text 741741. Help is available 24/7 in the United States.
2. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
3. The crisis counselor uses effective, active listening and suggestions for referrals to help the texter to move from “a hot moment” to a cool and calm place so that he or she can stay safe and healthy. All this is done through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.
Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?
A: Crisis Text Line exists to help both teens in crisis and anyone of any age who needs crisis counseling help.
Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?
A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are either rigorously trained volunteers, or employees of the organization’s crisis center partners.
Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?
A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. This person will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.
Q: TEENS IN CRISIS WANT TO KNOW: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?
A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. Crisis Text Line takes your anonymity seriously. Check out the Crisis Text Line terms of service here.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?
A: Crisis Text Line does not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to the Crisistext.org short code, 741741, are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.
Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?
A: Nothing will appear on your cell phone bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier, the crisistext.org short code, 741741, will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this works here.
Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?
A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes such as 741741 are not allowed on many prepaid plans such as T-Mobile’s.
Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN. CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?
A: You can text in again if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on Crisis Text Line. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.
Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?
A: Crisis Text Line’s goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about the organization on social media, wait times may be longer.
Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: Yes; there is a character limit. Crisis Text Line’s system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.
Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?
Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes. The small percentage of people with these phones can’t use Crisis Text Line.
If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.
Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?
A: Yes. You can reach Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?
A: Yes, anonymity applies. Crisis Text Line does not have access to your Facebook profile. The only information Crisis Text Line will know about you is what you share with them.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?
A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?
A: Message Crisis Text Line back with the word “LOOFAH.” Crisis Text Line will scrub your data from its system and make a request to Facebook to do the same.
Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?
A: When you contact Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, you agree to both Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service and Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.
Q: I WANT TO DO SOMETHING PRACTICAL TO HELP TEENS IN CRISIS. HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: You can donate to Crisis Text Line via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
Crisis Text Line
Attn: Finance Dept.
24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
New York, NY 10010
Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
A: Yes. Upon receiving your donation, Crisis Text Line will send you a thank you letter clarifying that your donation is tax deductible.
Q: HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER TO HELP THE MISSION OF CRISIS TEXT LINE?
The organization trains volunteers like you to support people in crisis. Apply to be a crisis counselor. (As I tell my GetIntoMedSchool.com clients, volunteering for Crisis Text Line can greatly enhance a med school application.)
Teens that have purpose and hope as a part of their lives tend to have fewer major crises.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.