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Crisis Services adds text and online chat as ways to get suicide prevention help

Two people holding hands
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection

Western New Yorkers dealing with things like suicidal thoughts or addiction can now text Crisis Services in addition to calling their 24/7 hotline.

The agency has launched a text and chat hotline, which runs from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday.

If you need to text a Crisis Services counselor, text 716-300-2338.

You may also start an online chat by going to Crisis Services dot org. You should automatically receive a text back welcoming you to the platform and giving instructions on how to proceed.

Rachel Morrison, program director for Crisis Services’ hotline, said she envisions all kinds of people needing to text or send an online chat message instead of calling, whether it be someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, or someone who is around other people and needs privacy.

“Somebody who might just be in a room or maybe need a safe place, maybe they're in trouble, and they need a safe place to be able to reach out," she said. "So those are some of the other demographics or situations that come to mind. Or folks might be able to text or chat and still get those services when they were in crisis.”

Morrison said it’s something they’ve been wanting to implement for several years.

“And then last year with COVID, and all of those things that were needed for folks to be able to learn differently and to reach out differently, is where we were very, very thankful and grateful that we were able to get the funding to try this pilot program,” Morrison said.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.