WVU students will now have access to a new crisis text line, which will allow them to speak with a counselor in minutes by texting “WVU” to 741741.
“It’s a free 24/7 text line that supports students and more broadly anyone who is in crisis,” said T. Anne Hawkins, clinical director at the Carruth Center. “It can be texted anywhere in the U.S. and its answered by trained crisis counselors who are supervised by licensed professional counselors.”
After texting in, students will receive an automated message asking what their crisis is and within minutes, a trained crisis counselor will respond live. From there, they will help students with their crisis and create a plan to follow afterwards for the students’ safety, according to the organization’s website.
“Students can expect a pretty fast response,” Hawkins said. “Their average response is under five minutes and often faster than that. To date, they have had over 100 million responses processed.”
The service will be kept confidential, unless it is determined by a counselor that sharing information with an emergency service is necessary for the safety of the student, according to Crisis Text Line’s website.
“They do text with people who are struggling with suicidality and who are experiencing crisis, but suicidality is not even one of the top three issues that they address,” Hawkins said. “The top three are depression, relationships and anxiety; Suicide is the fourth. Which, by the way, really parallels with some of the top presenting problems with students who come to the counseling center.”
The crisis text line does not replace ongoing counseling, Hawkins said.
“It can augment or support ongoing counseling, but if students need ongoing counseling, they should come to the counseling center,” Hawkins said. “Here they can meet with a counselor, phycologist or social worker who can access them and develop a plan that meets their needs.”
Hawkins said that the text line will be a much more accessible service for students who have anxiety about talking on the telephone.
“I also think that what is increasingly true is that people under the age of 25 prefer texting rather than conversing on the phone,” Hawkins said. “I think this is an attempt to meet students where they are.”
If students receive an error message or no response, this could mean that their carrier does not support the short code. If this is the case, students can access the crisis line through Facebook Messenger at facebook.com/crisistextline.
“We are really excited about it, and we know that when we talk to the text line folks, it’s clear that the conversation of suicide peaks on Sunday night,” Hawkins said. “Having this 24/7 access will be really beneficial for our students.”