In the past few weeks, students at Los Altos may have noticed a poster placed in school restrooms promoting a crisis text line. The Student Community Leaders (SCL) class posted this text line to aid teenagers dealing with any type of crisis.
The idea originated from Principal Wynne Satterwhite when she attended an event in Palo Alto in September. Satterwhite presented the idea to SCL advisor Sarah Alvarado, who then shared it with the SCL class.
“With the growing concerns around stress and wellness of people in our community, Mrs. Satterwhite, myself and the SCL students felt that it was important to make sure our community is aware that help is out there,” Alvarado said.
The line is operated by Crisis Text Line, a non-profit organization founded in 2013 dedicated to crisis intervention. Students dealing with issues can text START to 741741, and they will immediately be in contact with a live crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line. The counselor will text with them for as long as the student desires. SCL thought that the service would fit the needs for students at Los Altos dealing with problems, as a free service, available at any time and simple to use.
Crisis Text Line prefers to help people over text due to the private nature of communication between the client and counselor.
“Text is unbelievably private,” Founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line Nancy Lublin said during a TED Talk. “No one hears you talking. The beautiful thing about [our service] is that these are strangers counseling other strangers on the most intimate issues.”
Lublin and her associates use the data received from the text messages to gain more insight into how to specifically help a person in need.
“We have the data to know what makes a great counselor,” Lublin said. “We know that if you text the words ‘numbs’ and ‘sleeve,’ there’s a 99 percent match for cutting. We know that if you text in the words ‘mg’ and ‘rubber band,’ there’s a 99 percent match for substance abuse. And we know that if you text in ‘sex,’ ‘oral’ and ‘Mormon,’ you’re questioning if you’re gay.”
In less than two years, Crisis Text Line received more than 6.5 million text messages from those in need. SCL hopes students dealing with any type of crisis will use the text line to get the help they need.
“I hope that when [students] don’t have any motivation or when they don’t have anyone to go to, they go to the bathroom, see these flyers and are not embarrassed to [use the number],” SCL member junior Juan Palominos said. “A lot of people are scared of just getting the piece of paper and making the call. I think that making the call will really impact their life and maybe help save their life.”