How Crisis Text Line is harnessing data to improve mental health support in the Bay Area


Microsoft believes in the power of technology to connect people and improve lives. Crisis Text Line channels that power to facilitate human connection when people need it most. A simple SMS exchange could save a life. Please read this important guest post by Crisis Text Line Bay Area Director, Libby Craig, and join us in helping to spread the word about this important work. Thank you. ~Thea Nilsson

Crisis Text Line is a national not-for-profit that provides free, 24/7, confidential crisis support — all by text. We support 50,000 texters per month, and about 75 percent of them are under the age of 25. Today, Crisis Text Line announced partnerships with the City of San Francisco, Caltrain, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Giants, and more to raise awareness of text-based crisis support in the Bay Area.

Sally Longyear, a Palo Alto parent whose daughter, Sarah Longyear, died of suicide at Caltrain in April, spoke of her support for Crisis Text Line at a press event. “If my daughter had known about Crisis Text Line, and had reached out for support, she might be here today,” she said. “If just one life is saved by adding these signs [to the Caltrain tracks], it will be worth it.”

In 2013, serial social entrepreneur Nancy Lublin founded Crisis Text Line. Since then, we’ve exchanged more than 26 million messages with people in crisis, creating the largest real-time mental health data set. We’ve received funding from tech giants like Reid Hoffman, Steve Ballmer, Melinda Gates, and the Omidyar Network.

So, how does it work? Any person in crisis can text 741741. They’re matched with a trained Crisis Counselor who helps them move from a hot moment to a cool calm through validation, strength identification, collaborative problem solving, and providing resources.

baybrave_social_01Crisis Text Line harnesses the power of technology and data to make its service efficient and effective. For example, we stack-rank queues based on severity, so that texters at imminent risk of hurting themselves are matched with a Crisis Counselor first — in an average of 1.8 minutes. And overall, 87 percent of all texters reach a Crisis Counselor in under five minutes.

At, we analyze aggregate data and share findings. We’ve found that the worst day of the week for stress is Wednesday (we all know hump day can be a drag), and the worst day of the week for suicidal ideation is Sunday. We also identify geographic trends. Our data shows that the Bay Area over-indexes in self-harm, stress, bereavement, and third party texters — people concerned about a friend’s safety.

With today’s partnership announcement, 741741 is on its way to becoming the 911 for mental health crises in the Bay Area.

Get Involved
● Join the #BAYbrave movement on social media. Share why de-stigmatizing mental health issues and raising awareness for resources like Crisis Text Line is important to you.
● Spread the number. Text BAY to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor.
● There are more than 200 volunteer Crisis Counselors in the Bay Area alone — join us! Apply at


Libby Craig is the Bay Area Director of Crisis Text Line. She oversees growth, partnerships and volunteer recruitment in the Bay Area. Previously, she worked in product management at two tech startups. Want to learn more about Crisis Text Line? Reach out to