Texting in Crisis: Help-Seeking, Coping, and Trusted Adult Resources of Suicidal Youth Who Contact a Crisis Text Line URF (AWD00001402)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Crisis hotline services serve an important and unique role in suicide prevention, but young people at risk have historically been reluctant to seek help from crisis services, with shame and over reliance on self being the primary barriers (Gould, 2006). The enthusiastic response of youth to crisis text messaging services has challenged assumptions about their unwillingness to seek adult help in crisis, and opened up new possibilities for suicide prevention. Unfortunately, almost nothing is known about this new population of help-seeking youth, and the methods for conducting suicide prevention research in this arena have not yet been developed. Our experienced research team has partnered with the nation’s largest provider of crisis text services, Crisis Text Line (CTL), to conduct the first major research effort in this new area of suicide prevention. Our goal is to understand the severity and context of suicide risk among youth who text in crisis and begin to identify factors that could increase the likelihood that suicidal youth will benefit from. To pursue this goal, we will focus on three key domains that previous research has indicated are both key protective factors against youth suicidal behavior, and have a role in the adolescents’ use of crisis services (Gould, 2004; Pisani et al, 2012; Pisani, et al 2013): positive helpseeking norms, adaptive coping norms, and positive perceptions of adult support in their natural environment. We plan to collect new survey data, mine text message records, and analyze counselor reports for 4,000 individuals ages 12-22 who text Crisis Text Line during a 9-month period. Because no data has ever been reported on this new population, we will begin by describing the population, then address the core research questions by selecting subsamples of youth to examine their help-seeking, coping, and trusted adult resources in relation to suicide risk and likelihood of using suggestions from crisis counselors. Finally, a key goal of the grant is to develop methodologies for future research on the effectiveness of crisis text intervention and its role as a platform for suicide prevention.
Effective start/end date1/1/1712/31/18


  • University of Rochester (417007G/UGFAOGR510590)
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (417007G/UGFAOGR510590)


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