Health Notes: Text service for suicide prevention sees heavy useAn innovative approach to helping young people who have suicidal thoughts has reached a wide audience.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
An innovative approach to helping young people who have suicidal thoughts has reached a wide audience.
TXT4Life, which uses texting instead of telephoning a suicide hot line, was established under a grant approved in August 2011 to serve Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties. It’s getting heavy use — between 300 and 500 text conversations per month between trained counselors and youth or young adults, said Meghann Condit, the grant’s coordinator.
That compares to between eight and 20 calls per month for the entire state in the pre-texting era, said Condit, who works out of the Carlton County Public Health and Human Services Department.
The vast majority of the texts come from the seven-county area, Condit said. But social media have widened the service’s scope. Texts have been sent from 49 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and from all 50 states.
When texts come from outside the region, the counselor responds to the texter’s need but also connects him to resources in his home area, Condit said.
The texting service was set up because the telephone hotline was getting so little use, Condit said.
“We really just wanted to meet them where they’re at,” she said. “That’s what they’re doing: They’re texting; they’re not calling.”