CONTACT We Care: Suicide Hotline Reaching Teens through Texting in New Jersey

CONTACT We Care is the award-winning, volunteer-staffed, caring and crisis hotline serving New Jersey. They are the primary responder within the State of New Jersey to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-SUICIDE. The hotline is one of only a handful in the country to add the text option which offers added anonymity and secrecy. Since the statewide hotline, based in Westfield, introduced the texting service in March, it has received 500 text messages, mostly from teenagers and young adults. Phone hotlines have existed since the 1960s but only in recent years have states like North Carolina, Nevada and now New Jersey expanded them to include online chat services and texting.

Volunteers work two-hour shifts two to three times a week answering calls at a Westfield facility and responding to texts through an external computer program.

CONTACT volunteers attend 50 hours of training in active listening skills and how to handle the broad range of calls received on the hotline. They also offer advanced trainings in suicide intervention skills. Once trained, all volunteers are under the continuous supervision of a licensed clinical social worker.

Population of focus: Teens and young adults in New Jersey

Resource: Texters can reach the hotline by texting “CWC” to 839863 Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. All texts are anonymous and confidential. The phone hotline is available 24/7 at (908) 232-2880.

Link to resource: http://www.contactwecare.org/

Organization: CONTACT We Care Inc.

Date: 2012