Who is Lifeline Crisis Chat for?

Anyone who is depressed, despairing, going through a hard time and just needs to talk, including people who are thinking about suicide.  A chat visitor does not have to be thinking about suicide to use crisis chat.  Any life issue, whether it be depression, family issues, relationship problems, and financial issues, among others, may be discussed on Lifeline Crisis Chat.  Chat specialists are here to listen and support you through whatever difficulties you may be having.

What should I expect during a chat session?

The goal of the chat service is to help you reduce stress and feel more empowered to make healthy decisions.

You will be asked questions regarding:

  •  your safety
  •  emotions and thoughts regarding your situation
  •  feelings of depression or anxiety
  •  what support you have
  •  if you have thoughts of suicide

If a chat specialist feels that you are in danger, he or she will talk with you about accessing emergency services to ensure your safety.  

The chat specialist will also work collaboratively with you to create a safety plan, outlining some positive coping strategies and next steps, among other things.

There may be times when additional contact information is requested. This will be requested in case the chat is unexpectedly disconnected or the chat specialist needs to send emergency services. It is always your choice whether or not you feel comfortable providing this information to the chat specialist.

Is Lifeline Crisis Chat really free? 

Yes, Lifeline Crisis Chat is absolutely free.   

Local crisis centers around the United States are supported by local funding from both the private and public sector. CONTACT USA (the organization that founded this site) raises money from donors to help pay for youth outreach, training materials for crisis centers, and technical costs. If you are interested in donating to support the efforts of CONTACT USA crisis Centers, click here.

Where/When is chat service available?

We are available seven days a week from 2pm – 2am EST.  Crisis Chat is only available in the United States and its territories.  If you are visiting from outside the US, please check out Unsuicide for a list of online options for help around the world. You are also welcome to check out our library, screening tools, and resources, regardless of where you live.

When you agree to the terms and conditions, you will be routed to a crisis center in the United States that has a chat specialist available to talk to you.  If all chat specialists are busy chatting with other visitors, please try again in 15 - 30 minutes.

When there is no chat service available, we encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Who responds to Crisis Chat?

Chat Specialists are located in crisis centers across the United States that already provide crisis hotline phone services.  Crisis Centers utlize paid staff and volunteers to answer chats.  Volunteers and staff are screened in-person and attend 30-60 hours of crisis training before they respond to calls or chats.  Volunteers and staff are also supervised locally to ensure ongoing quality of service. 

All of these crisis centers are accredited by CONTACT USA to ensure quality and consistency of service.  

Why are you asking for my information? Can I remain anonymous?

Non-identifying demographic information (like your zip code, age, issue, and self-identified gender) is collected on Crisis Chat. This information is used in the aggregate and is helpful to demonstrate need for the service to attain further funding to expand the service in the United States. 

You are not required to use your real name on Crisis Chat.  If you would like, you may provide a fictitious name. 

If your phone number or other form of contact information is requested, it is so a chat specialist can contact you in case of a disconnected chat, or in the case of an emergency in which your safety is at risk. Whether to give your phone number or other information is always your choice, and your personal information will never be shared unless a Chat Specialist feels your life is in imminent danger.

How is my information stored?

Your information and chats are confidential within the crisis chat network.  Any information reported to the public will be reported in the aggregate (such as "66% of our visitors are under the age of 25") to ensure anonymity.   

Are Crisis Chat communications secure?

Confidentiality and security of chats are ensured through the Crisis Chat software provider, which uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other. All of your communications are securely encrypted from your computer to ours.

Why did the name and the look of the chat box change?

In April 2013, CONTACT USA, the organization that founded CrisisChat.org, partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide expanded crisis/suicide prevention services to ensure a safety net of services across the country for all visitors in need of help during times of crisis. As many crisis centers already took part in both CrisisChat.org and Lifeline, we developed a memorandum of understanding which outlines how both entities will work together to ensure quality services to all those in need of emotional support and crisis intervention on-line.

To show the new partnership, the name has been changed to "Lifeline Crisis Chat." Some of the centers involved use a different chat software provider, which may make your chat window look different. Though more crisis centers are involved now, the fundamental service is the same, and all crisis centers taking part are required to be accredited by CONTACT USA just like the original centers. You can expect the same level of service and confidentiality as always.

Will the police come to my home if I admit I feel suicidal?

It is very important for us to provide a safe and confidential space for you to talk about whatever personal things you need to discuss.  That's why it is our policy not to send a police car or ambulance to anyone's home unless that is the only way to prevent an immediate death or serious injury.  We will ask you if you have suicidal thoughts.  Please feel free to be honest with us.  Admitting your feelings and thoughts will not result in someone coming to your home.  When you can speak honestly to a non-judgemental person, you feel better and the specialist you're talking to will better understand your situation.

If you tell us you are in a potentially lethal situation, such as having a weapon in your hand that you intend to use, or that you have already taken pills, we may send rescue.  These situations are rare.  Even though roughly half of our visitors tell us they are having suicidal thoughts, only one out of every 200-300 conversations results in a rescue attempt.  We want you to feel safe, and part of assuring that safety on our part is having a procedure in place to send help if someone is hurt, dying, or about to take a potentially lethal action.  We hope that this does not prevent you from honestly sharing your feelings with us.

Contact USA would like to thank the following sponors for making CrisisChat.org possible.