This text-message hotline can predict your risk of depression or stress

Clinton Nguyen for TechInsider: “When counselors are helping someone in the midst of an emotional crisis, they must not only know how to talk – they also must be willing to text.

Crisis Text Line, a non-profit text-message-based counseling service, operates a hotline for people who find it safer or easier to text about their problems than make a phone call or send an instant message. Over 1,500 volunteers are on hand 24/7 to lend support about problems including bullying, isolation, suicidal thoughts, bereavement, self-harm, or even just stress.

But in addition to providing a new outlet for those who prefer to communicate by text, the service is gathering a wellspring of anonymized data.

“We look for patterns in historical conversations that end up being higher risk for self harm and suicide attempts,” Liz Eddy, a Crisis Text Line spokesperson, tells Tech Insider. “By grounding in historical data, we can predict the risk of new texters coming in.crisis-text-line-sms

According to Fortune, the organization is using machine learning to prioritize higher-risk individuals for quicker and more effective responses. But Crisis Text Line is also wielding the data it gathers in other ways – the company has published a page of trends that tells the public which hours or days people are more likely to be affected by certain issues, as well as which US states are most affected by specific crises or psychological states.

According to the data, residents of Alaska reach out to the Text Line for LGBTQ issues more than those in other states, and Maine is one of the most stressed out states. Physical abuse is most commonly reported in North Dakota and Wyoming, while depression is more prevalent in texters from Kentucky and West Virginia.

The research comes at an especially critical time. According to studies from the National Center for Health Statistics, US suicide rates have surged to a 30-year high. The study noted a rise in suicide rates for all demographics except black men over the age of 75. Alarmingly, the suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-old girls has tripled since 1999….(More)”