In 2013, Nancy Lublin launched the world’s first crisis-intervention hotline that utilized text messaging. The Crisis Text Line (or CTL) allows anyone to send a text about their situation (such as bullying, suicidal thoughts, or physical abuse) to the number (741741), and a trained volunteer counselor will respond and provide support. This service has been so useful because many problems that people, and in particular teens, face are difficult to raise with a parent or authority figure, so texting provides a more discrete way to reach out for help. After two years, and six million texts, Lublin and the CTL team have helped a lot of people and learned a lot about the types of crises that are being experienced across the United States.
Lublin took what she learned from all those texts and launched a sister site, CrisisTrends.com. The site synthesizes the data from teens into charts and maps to show the prevalence of certain types of crises across time and geography. The data are able to show the likelihood of a text concerning a certain issue being sent at a certain time of day or day of the week. For example, suicidal thoughts tend to occur most frequently at 7pm and 8pm, followed closed by 12pm. The site also features maps ranking the states by the prevalence of each type of crisis, indicating that, somewhat surprisingly, the most anxious states are New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Hawaii, in that order. Lublin hopes that this information will lead to better services, as local support systems become better tuned into the specific problems facing their areas.
Below are a few maps from the Crisis Trends site. The first is the map of Anxiety:
Next is the map of where teens are most affected by eating disorders. According to the data, Arkansas is ranked first followed by Maine and Virginia.
Finally, here is the map of suicidal tendencies, ranking Montana first, Alaska second, and Colorado third:
Crisis Trends is a great reminder that maps are not just good for navigation or intellectual stimulation. They can also be a potent force for social good. Spread the word about Crisis Trends so that policymakers and local officials can utilize this data to know where crises are more likely to occur and work more effectively to help those in need.