E683: Founder Nancy Lublin (DoSomething.org, Dress for Success) takes on suicide prevention with Crisis Text Line, partnering the power of human empathy with machine learning to save lives



about this episode

A recurring theme in our society and in the technology industry is suicide, depression, people in crisis. Nancy Lublin is a social entrepreneur, author and philanthropist that previously founded Dress for Success, the organization that helps women transition from welfare to work, and DoSomething.org, a non-profit organization with the goal of motivating young people to take action around social changes through national campaigns and grants for projects that make an impact. Her latest venture, Crisis Text Line, is the nation’s first free, 24/7 text line for people in emotional crisis. Teenagers love to text, and Crisis Text Line turns this into a way to help them through their hardest times: family issues, stress or suicidal thoughts. Trained counselors text back and forth with advice and resources—and, in the process, collect anonymous data that ultimately helps save lives. As a social entrepreneur, Nancy has observed people debating this issue, but not collaborating to solve the problem, and her vision is to inspire young people to take action to make an impact.

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02:57: Jason introduces his guest, founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line, Nancy Lublin.

03:18: Crisis Text Line is a 24/7 text support line that started as edge case for DoSomething.org in 2013. Nancy and her colleagues began noticing the migration toward texting by young people in need of someone to “talk” to.

04:56: Text is fantastic means for counseling because it’s popular, primary way ppl communicate, private/silent, immediate help since it’s instant, just get facts, lose tone but gain candidness

08:41: Nancy takes us through what counselor training is and how it works.

10:02: Started by putting words in algorithm, this summer, integrated machine learning. The algorithm recognizes text patterns and words that signal severity of a crisis.

16:30: Crisis Text Line does 10 active rescues a day.

20:25: Nancy shares data visualization for crisis issues mapped against times of day.

28:50: There are parameters within Crisis Text Line: Counselors are not here to be your friend, and when a texter needs further guidance, counselors will suggest a management plan.

30:43: Nancy contrasts how Crisis Text Line is unlike every other tech startup.

33:40: Jason and Nancy discuss their thoughts on entrepreneurship, suicide, and the pressures/stresses between the two.

39:19: Magic words: smart/proud/brave, what and how is more effective, not “why” (accusatory), asking those questions is better than trying to solve the problem.

42:39: Nancy lets the texter lead and uses a tone that mirrors what they say.

45:41: Nancy talks about the writer that shares the incredible story about her transgender brother’s pregnancy.

47:55: 23% of texters are referred to some other resource, ie: an online resource, where to get a bed in a homeless shelter, etc.

53:46: Nancy explains the two things that makes Crisis Text Line her best venture.

59:59: In this biz, Nancy has to pay for 20+ full-time supervisors, data scientists, and the technology

01:01:15: Society puts a massive burden on men to be defined by biz success.

01:09:09: Jason shares his closing thoughts and applauds Nancy for being on the frontline for reducing suffering.

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