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How Data Shaped a Teen-Counselling-By-Text Service

MFG Archive

In our latest news roundup, following on from Beth Kanter's piece last week, we take a closer look at how the Crisis Text Line is using data to shape their counselling by text service for troubled teens.



In our contribution from Beth Kanter last week, she covered DoSomething.Org CEO Nancy Lublin’s keynote speech at Data on Purpose. This week, we take a closer look at how DoSomething.Org are using data science, based on this article originally featured on the Fast Company Exist website.


When Nancy Lublin first launched her nonprofit, in a fairly unusual move, her first two hires were a Chief Technology Officer and a Chief Data Scientist. This paid off when the organisation launched the Crisis Text Line, a text-based counselling service for suicidal or troubled teenagers.


Lublin’s data-led approach is helping to advance the crisis counselling feed by pooling all of its data. With suicide as the third-leading cause of death among people aged 10-24, this provides an opportunity to make a real impact.


Crisis Text Line has been collecting data since its inception in 2013, with more than 87,000 conversations and 7 million anonymous text messages exchanges. The initial focus for the organisation has been around improving the experience for their counsellors, who are trained volunteers. As the service expands, Crisis Text Line will need to ensure even further that resources are used efficiently. They turned to organisation DataKind, who pair data scientists with nonprofits. They were paired with data scientist Noelle Sio Saldana, the principal data scientist at Pivotal.


By working with data scientists like Saldana, Crisis Text Line aim to open up its data to other researchers, policymakers and journalists to gain more insight about teens in crisis in an ethical and private way.

To find out more, be sure to check out the original article, ‘How Data Science Shaped This Teen-Counseling-By-Text Service‘ on the Fast Company Exist site. Be sure to follow them on social @FastCoExist.


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