As of today, the Trevor Project's suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for LGBTQ youth are more accessible than ever.
The organization has long provided a 24/7 phone line, but now its text and chat services have gone 24/7 as well, for the first time in the Trevor Project's 21-year history. The previous hours were 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern daily.
The Trevor Project made the move with Generation Z in mind - the generation born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, members of which have always known smartphones. They are more comfortable with text and chat services than with speaking on the phone or in-person interactions, according to Trevor Project officials. A third-party evaluation of the group's services found that 63 percent of those who used its text and chat services reported doing so because they felt like it was easier to be themselves on those platforms.
YouTube star Tyler Oakley is helping the Trevor Project get the word out about its services. In a video, he recalls a time in his life when they would have been helpful to him.
He was about to go onstage in his high school musical when the only friend he had come out to told him she had informed several other people he was gay. It made him feel he couldn't trust anyone.
"I remember going out there onstage thinking, Who is out there that knows this about me now?" he says. "And feeling like I don't have control over my own narrative anymore, I don't have control over how I get to tell everyone my deepest, darkest secret - my truth - and feeling helpless and alone. I just remember thinking, I don't know how I'm going to get through this day. That would have definitely been a moment I would have reached out to the Trevor Project."
AT&T has partnered with the Trevor Project to take the text and chat services 24/7. The company is providing financial support, products, services, and employee volunteers.
"As one of the first corporate allies of the LGBTQ community, providing resources and support - whether it's through our technology or our dedicated employees - to help save lives of LGBTQ young people is a crucial part of our mission," said Valerie Vargas, AT&T senior vice president of advertising and creative services, in a Trevor Project press release.
Other financial supporters of the expansion include the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
To access the Trevor Project's services by phone, call (866) 488-7386. For text services, text "START" to 678678. For chat, connect with a counselor via the Trevor Project website.
Watch Oakley's interview and a public service announcement below.