Ohio’s suicide prevention efforts now include a crisis texting service that has been used by 15,456 people over the past three years and that has led to “active rescues” of 243 people who were in serious danger of self-harm. Getty Image

Ohio uses marketing muscle to push new crisis text line

The crisis text line, a free service founded by Nancy Lublin and quietly launched in August 2013, is available nationwide but Ohio is the first state to actively market it through a social media and billboard campaign.

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“Ohio is the first one to really go for it,” Lublin said. In September, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services put up $160,000 to market the service.

People in crisis can text “4HOPE” to 741741 to be immediately connected with a trained, volunteer crisis counselor.

Data show that 79 percent of Ohioans using the crisis text service are under age 25 and 10 percent are under age 13; 85 percent are white; 47 percent are heterosexual; 61 percent say they’re sharing something they’ve never told anyone else. Counselors say issues that come up are likely to include: depression, stress, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, bullying, physical abuse and more.

The text service is confidential and free. Lublin said mobile carriers agreed to remove evidence that the service has been used from bills.

“Our job is to take someone from a hot moment to a cool moment,” Lublin said. But if the texter is suicidal, counselors will call 911.

Tracy Plouck, director of the state mental health department, said the texting line supplements rather than replaces traditional suicide prevention hotlines.

The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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