By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A national nonprofit organization is opening its virtual doors to help young people across the country deal with sensitive topics such as bullying, depression and even suicide through the use of a smartphone.

The Crisis Text Line has 3,500 certified and well-trained counselors in many cities helping people get through those tough times and thousands of text conversations are taking place right now in Stockton.

When Alicia Garcia, 18, goes through a difficult time, she usually turns to her phone so she can reach out to friends over text message.

“We don’t really call anymore. We text; that’s just our thing,” she said.

Garcia was taught to share problems with her parents, or even a teacher, but says sometimes that’s just too embarrassing.

“You are supposed to be growing up, you are supposed to be maturing, and then you’re going through a hard time so, people might look down upon you for that,” said Garcia.

But a fairly new nonprofit called Crisis Text Line based in New York is making it easier for people to deal with problems like anxiety over a test or losing a job, bullying at school, child abuse, domestic violence, even suicide by texting “hello,” to 741741.

“It can be a little bit easier to not actually voice what you’re going through and text is also a way those teens and frankly more and more of us are comfortable communicating. So, our goal as an organization is meeting people where they are through the median they know and trust,” said Libby Craig, west coast director for the Crisis Text Line.

Over 1 million text messages are received on a monthly basis. Leaders with the company say 75% of users are under the age of 25. 6,000 text messages come from Stockton where users are reportedly dealing with depression the most, followed by suicide and family issues.

“A lot of children in crisis and adolescents in crisis are afraid they are going to get in trouble for whatever they are going through, and this is a great way for them to get the help they need without fear,” said Jon Page, marriage and family therapist.

Therapists say the crisis line is a bridge to help connect people to resources. Stockton mom, Wilisha Beatty-Cherry says it’s a relief, knowing there is extra support in the community for teens to go to for help.

“It’s like co-parenting; you have somebody that will come along your side to help you when you’re not able to reach your own child so, it’s very comforting,” she said.

Crisis Text Line is a free and confidential service. Volunteers go through a background check and an intense training course that allows them to be part of the organization.


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