What is Crisis Chat?

Crisis Chat is a lot like a crisis/suicide prevention hotline, but online using instant messaging (IM) instead of over the phone. Anyone can log on anonymously to talk to a caring, non-judgmental peer crisis counselor about whatever they're going through and know that they'll be shown respect and support and that their information will be held in confidence.

IowaCrisisChat.org is run by The Crisis Center of Johnson County in Iowa City, IA whose mission is to answer in a non-judgmental and caring way when a person asks for emotional support. Our goal is to listen and support you and to help you work through your crisis.

Who can chat?

While we are an Iowa-based program, anyone in the United States can log on to chat. If you need to talk to someone because you or someone you know needs help, you are welcome to log on to chat with a peer counselor who can help you through your crisis, whatever it may be. At IowaCrisisChat.org we allow people to define what a crisis is for them---you don't have to be suicidal to be in crisis!

Who am I talking to?

Chat Specialists are trained peer crisis counselors, mostly volunteers. They are not therapists, not there to diagnose you or give advice. They are there to listen, support you and help you find your own solutions.

Why am I not getting an immediate response?

We would love to be able to respond immediately to every chat request, but unfortunately we do not have enough counselors to do so. At any given time during our service hours there are one to three counselors available. You deserve our full attention so you may have to wait for one of the counselors to finish their current chat before they can start a chat with you.

We currently don't have the technology to give you an estimated wait time, but if you are able to wait a counselor will be with you as soon as possible until the end of our service hours. All chats are answered in the order they are received. If you log off and log on again later, you will end up at the end of the line.

We are actively working on increasing our capacity to meet the demand for chats! If you are interested in helping IowaCrisisChat.org reach this goal, read How can I help?.

What can I do if Chat is not available?

We currently don't have the capacity to make IowaCrisisChat.org a 24/7 service so if we're offline, please don't hesitate to call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at 319-351-0140 or toll-free at 855-325-4296 to talk with a caring, compassionate volunteer. You can also try Lifeline Crisis Chat which is available 24/7. Additionally, if you look at the More Resources page on our site you will find a number of resources for chat, phone and text crisis counseling for information, mental health services and more.

Why should I use IowaCrisisChat.org instead of Lifeline Crisis Chat?

Lifeline Crisis Chat is available 24/7 and is a great resource when the time is outside of the service hours for IowaCrisisChat.org. They also have multiple centers in their network so at some times they may have more counselors available.

However, you may want to connect to IowaCrisisChat.org if you are from Iowa because you will be connected with specialists who are also in Iowa and who are familiar with the resources available for you.

Can you trace my computer?

While we do our best to avoid it, it is possible for our administrators to involve emergency responders to attempt to locate you in the case that you are an imminent serious threat to yourself or others or in cases of child abuse. Your safety is important to us, but so is your ability to feel safe and comfortable in talking with us. Please be assured that you can expect to remain anonymous in almost all circumstances. See our complete privacy policy for details.

Is what I say confidential?

Yes. Everything you say on a chat is held in strict confidence within The Crisis Center of Johnson County and unless you sign a release of information will be disclosed only as required by law, in the case that you are an imminent serious threat to yourself or others or in cases of child abuse. See our complete privacy policy for details.

How can I help?

Thank you for asking! We would love to increase IowaCrisisChat.org's capacity to respond to chat requests to make sure everyone has access to help when they need it. Check out The Crisis Center's website for information on how to donate to the service or, if you're in the Iowa City area, to volunteer as a chat specialist.