September 14, 2016

By Dawn Brown

“I have a crisis counselor in my pocket,” 18-year-old Samuel told me. “I love those people. They saved my life.” Like many teens, Samuel experiences depression and anxiety. These mental health conditions place him at a higher risk for suicide: the third leading cause of death for people aged 10-24.

What Samuel actually has in his pocket is his cell phone. By simply texting the word “NAMI” to 741741 Samuel—or anyone—can directly connect with a crisis counselor trained to offer help and put them at ease.

Mental health conditions can be unpredictable. While no one wants to worry about the possibility of a crisis—they can happen. That’s why NAMI and Crisis Text Line have partnered to bring crisis texting to our communities. Our goal is to provide hope and resources to any person who needs help.

According to the Pew Research Center, teenagers send an average of 100 texts per day—3,100 per month. It’s a concise, direct form of communication that helps contain emotional situations. It doesn’t put anyone on the spot or demand immediate answers. And for the past three years, hundreds of thousands of teenagers have used Crisis Text Line for 24/7 crisis interventions. The average exchange lasts about an hour, or if there’s a risk of suicide, as long as necessary.

Crisis Text Line uses a network of over 1,500 well-trained and supervised volunteer crisis counselors that train and volunteer from home. Each has completed 34 hours of training on reflective listening, collaborative problem solving and crisis management. If you have a heart for helping people, check-out information on how to become a volunteer.

Along with NAMI 741741 crisis texting, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) can connect you with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

NAMI is also committed to providing quick assistance to a person in crisis. The NAMI HelpLine offers information on what to do in an emergency or crisis, information on mental health crisis services and being prepared for a possible crisis. HelpLine volunteers are also able to provide empathetic support, connect callers with their local NAMI and provide information about NAMI Education Programs and Support Groups.

No one should have to face a crisis alone, and no one should believe that suicide is their only option.

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).