Crisis Trends Answers the Question: What’s the #1 Crisis for Teens in Your State?

Visualizations show a year’s worth of trends from the nation’s largest crisis texting service for teens, will make it easier to prevent future crises

[Embargoed until 9 AM EST, Monday, August 18, 2014]

NEW YORK, NY - Every day, thousands of teens face bullying, abuse, and family conflicts. Many struggle with depression, self-harm, or even thoughts of suicide. Launched in August 2013, Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 text support to teens nationwide. Teens have already exchanged over 3 million messages with trained specialists. Using data from specialist reports, we developed Crisis Trends, allowing people to identify trends in how teens experience crises over time and by state. We believe that developing a better sense of the factors that surround teen crises is key to addressing those crises holistically.

Crisis Trends relies on data from the nation’s largest texting-based crisis service for teens. This unmatched volume, velocity, and variety of data are what allows Crisis Trends to answer questions like: (1) what are the top crises for teens in Montana? (2) in what states is depression most common for teens? (3) for teens experiencing thoughts of suicide, what other crises do they face? Ultimately, Crisis Trends aims to help researchers, policy makers, and citizens understand the crises American teens face, and how to prevent future crises from happening.

Crisis Text Line is collaborating with researchers to turn this data into better outcomes for teens in crisis. Collaborators include Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Arvind Narayanan, PhD, and Karthik Dinakar of the MIT Media Lab. “A probabilistic analysis of adolescent crises can be a valuable tool for counselors, prevention science psychologists, and policy makers”, says Dinakar, whose research uses machine learning techniques to identify themes in the crises teens face.

Crisis Text Line is also collaborating with institutions like Creating Community Solutions, part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, the Digital Civil Society Lab, part of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Crisis Text Line is a winner of the 2014 Knight News Challenge: Health that sought ideas to harness data and information for the health of communities.

 “Crisis Trends reveals the power of using data to inform communities and solve some of our most pressing challenges,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. “By providing open access to this information in a clear and easy to use format Crisis Text Line is helping to build awareness around an important issue and creating a strong tool for problem-solving.”

Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Trends is an ongoing project - it will be updated regularly with the latest anonymized data - giving journalists, researchers, and policy makers the information they need to discover the latest trends in teens’ experiences of crisis.

About Crisis Text Line

Millions of teens are quietly suffering everyday. They struggle with depression, bullying, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and more. Many young people in crisis feel like they have no one to turn to and nowhere to go. At the same time, service providers struggle to stay current in reaching young populations to give them the support they need.  Phone hotlines are currently available, but the #1 preferred form of communication for young people is SMS. Crisis Text Line (CTL) has developed custom software that powers a free, 24/7 text line for teens available nationwide.

About Creating Community Solutions, part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health

On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health” and directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education to launch a National Dialogue on Mental Health.

Creating Community Solutions is an important part of the National Dialogue. In support of this effort, a number of deliberative democracy organizations joined together to engage citizens through “Creating Community Solutions,” a series of events around the country that will focus dialogue and action on mental health issues. The organizations include:  The National Institute for Civil Discourse, AmericaSpeaks, Everyday Democracy, Deliberative Democracy Consortium, The National Issues Forums Institute and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, working in concert with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services.

About The National Institute for Civil Discourse

The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) works with people and institutions to take responsibility for the quality of our public discourse, the current political dysfunction and the future of American democracy. NICD integrates research and practice to support and enable:

Learn more at

About The Digital Civil Society Lab, part of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

The digital civil society project examines the 21st Century, technology-driven innovations in philanthropy and civil society. As part of the Philanthropy, Policy and Technology (PPT) research initiative at Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), we have hosted a series of charrettes, which address five key questions about digital civil society:

  1. What will the Citizens United decision mean for nonprofits, philanthropy, and the public good?
  2. How is digital technology changing our conception of public accountability and public goods?
  3. How will big data, the sharing economy, and open government influence philanthropy?
  4. How can we better align our regulatory frames for public good with the technological innovations being made in bioscience, data processing, and other rapidly advancing fields?
  5. What is the 21st century policy frame we need to encourage the private and public resources to help address our global challenges?

The answers to these questions promise to shape a more robust, capable, fair, and effective system for using private resources for public good.  Such a system matters to all of us: nonprofits, donors, social investors, social entrepreneurs, activists, and citizens. They reflect what we want from government, markets, and individuals in solving our shared social problems.

About the Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

Sample Images

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.32.44 PM.png

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.31.26 PM.png