Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Catherine Glenn

Committee Member

James Paulson

Committee Member

Mark Scerbo


For young people, suicide is a leading cause of death. In addition, suicidal thoughts and behaviors begin during adolescence, and rates are high during this developmental period. Crisis lines are one of the oldest suicide prevention strategies used today. Crisis line work is challenging, and therefore, examining the health and safety of these operators is critical. Teen-to-teen (t2t) crisis lines are a unique resource where adolescent volunteers help their similarity aged peers. The goal of this pilot study was to begin to evaluate the impact of t2t crisis lines for youth volunteers. Twenty youth crisis line volunteers (ages 15-20) were recruited from two of the largest t2t crisis lines in the U.S. Enrolled volunteers were assessed up to five times over the course of one year; once at baseline and then every three months for up to approximately one year (baseline, 3-month follow-up, 6-month follow-up, 9-month follow-up, 12-month/1-year follow-up). The most common motivations reported for joining the t2t crisis line were to help others and give back to the community. Volunteers reported some negative impact via checkbox (e.g., stressful work and increased pressure to support others’ mental health), they also reported their overall negative experience to be low. Psychological distress was reported to be moderate and secondary traumatic stress was reported to be low. Volunteers reported many positive impacts via checkbox (e.g., helping others and greater empathy), they also reported their overall positive experience to be high. Considering our results, t2t crisis lines may not only be a unique opportunity for adolescents struggling with mental health, but for volunteers as well.


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