We consider it our duty to contribute insights to the field of mental health. There is a mental health emergency in the United States, and Crisis Text Line is in a unique position to contribute insights to the work of those who are hoping to address this crisis. We have had over 9 million conversations with texters in the United States. We analyze this anonymized and de-identified dataset and combine it with publicly available data sources to inform the work of policymakers, journalists, and researchers. In addition to our in-house research efforts, we also support the work of research collaborators at academic institutions.
Below, you can find information on:
- Featured publications,
including research briefs produced by the Research and Impact team at Crisis Text Line on our 10-year impact; our annual trend report; demographic differences among suicidal texters; the impact of volunteering; and the resilience of young texters during the pandemic.
- Research collaborations,
including a list of peer-reviewed publications produced by our research collaborators; as well as instructions on how to apply.
Every hour, there are thousands of people experiencing a crisis in the United States. Countless individuals and families, especially young people, grapple with a myriad of crises such as anxiety and depression to self-harm and suicidal ideation, which often remain hidden from the public eye.
Inspired by the power of text messaging in these moments, we founded Crisis Text Line 10 years ago. We knew young people felt at home texting on their phones. Whether someone is in a crowded classroom or lying awake in bed, texting makes it possible to reach out for support anonymously. When we launched, few believed our text-only model would work. Now, we have evidence that it is highly effective.
In this report, we tell the story of our first decade, and share insights on our impact on texters, volunteers, and society.
For our 4th annual United in Empathy Report, the Crisis Text Line Research and Impact team analyzed 1.3 million anonymized conversations in 2022 to learn about the issues that texters discussed with us, and the coping strategies that helped them feel better.
For the first time at in 2022, ‘relationships’ became the top stressor in our conversations as 1 in 3 texters discussed relationship stress or dysfunction and 1 in 5 conversations talked about suffering from the absence of human connection – feeling isolated or lonely. With most students back at school, our texters talked 27% more about bullying than in 2021. Substance use as an issue increased in our conversations, and texters also used more words related to opioids and painkillers than last year. Listening to music was the most common technique for our texters; 1 in 4 mentioned that it helped.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people (ages 10-24), and some groups of young people are especially at risk. In early 2023, Crisis Text Line Research & Impact conducted a study to examine which young people may be at risk of suicidal ideation within our texters, and consider how race and ethnicity, sexual identity, gender identity, and age may be associated with higher levels of suicidal ideation for some groups.
Among other things, we learned that the youngest texters (13 years or younger) were most likely to mention suicide, and that music was the most coping mechanism for young people with suicidal ideation; followed by rest, community, and making visual art.
Crisis Text Line has trained over 65,000 volunteer Crisis Counselors since launching its text-based mental health and crisis intervention service almost a decade ago. We surveyed 3,438 past and present volunteers to explore how the experience of volunteering at Crisis Text Line has impacted them, their relationships, careers, and communities.
The results emerging from this study paint a picture of how volunteering at Crisis Text Line shapes the lives of Crisis Counselors, their relationships, and communities. Donating time to help people in the worst moments of their lives has equipped our volunteers with skills, practice, and a platform to improve the mental health of others. It also taught them to take better care of their own mental health and improved their relationships to others.
The COVID-19 pandemic tested the resilience of many, but young people were in an especially difficult position as their routines, social structures, and rites of passage were disrupted; many also lost caregivers. In 2022, we published a report with insights from Crisis Text Line conversations with young people under 18 who reached out to us between 2019 and 2021. The findings include the most pressing crises on the minds of young texters and the resources that helped them cope.
We found that young texters talked significantly more about stress and anxiety, isolation and loneliness, grief and bereavement, and eating disorders and body issues during 2019-2021. Listening to music and making music remained the most common coping strategy, along with reading and writing, sleeping and bathing, making art, and talking to friends.
We support research efforts that might contribute solutions to the field of mental health. Over the past decade, researchers at our in-house Research & Impact team and our academic research collaborators have published over 26 peer-reviewed articles based on these anonymized and de-identified exchanges. These papers have been cited over 600 times.
We hold our research partners to rigorous vetting standards because we care deeply about texters’ privacy, and take the privilege of analyzing anonymized conversations seriously.
To be a Research Collaborator, you must meet the following key requirements:
- Be affiliated with an academic or research institution. This includes obtaining the approval of an Institutional Review Board (IRB), having a Principal Investigator that’s a full-time employee of the institution, and the written approval of your institution’s Office of Research or equivalent office.
- Expect to spend 3+ months working with our de-identified, anonymized data.
- Have the technical expertise to work with massive data sets.
- Complete our volunteer Crisis Counselor training to better understand our data.
- Be a U.S. or Canadian citizen. We need this for background checks.
Please note that we are currently not accepting new applications. We are excited to hear from you in winter 2023-2024 when our applications reopen.
See the list of published papers from research collaborators below.