Select a condition from the menu box above to see the hourly breakdown of texts to Crisis Text Line for that issue.
Every week for four hours, Darren Mastropaolo logs into a special web browser and begins reading the desperate pleas of strangers. They roll in by the dozens, sometimes faster than he can respond:
"I'm so nervous it's making me nauseous," one message might say. Or "help something happened last night. I kept saying stop I don't like this."
Mastropaolo is a volunteer with Crisis Text Line, a New York-based nonprofit that offers crisis counseling by text message, mostly to teens. Its volunteers are rigorously trained, undergoing 40 hours of education and role-play exercises before starting work. But unlike with traditional crisis-center phone banking, the text-based platform allows the volunteers to both receive training and to work from the comfort of their home computers.
The text interface might also be preferable for teens, Mastropaolo says. "Think about being in school and being able to text privately on the bus or from the bathroom stall without anyone hearing what you're going through."
Crisis Text Line has helped 70,000 people since it launched a year ago. Mastropaolo usually interacts with several texters at once, but he'll stay with each conversation for as long as the texter wants or needs.