About VIA LINK Crisis Chat
VIA LINK Crisis Chat is for anyone who is going through a hard time, having thoughts about suicide, or just needs to talk. Crisis Intervention Specialists, or simply referred to as Specialists, are ready to listen, provide emotional support and help you cope. Specialists are not here to judge or tell you what you should do. We understand that people are the experts in their own lives.
The goal of Crisis Chat is to provide supportive counseling when you need someone to talk to. During your session, the Specialist may ask you questions to help them better understand your situation and your emotions, as well as to assess your safety. The Specialist will talk with you about how you are feeling, and help you create a safety plan if necessary. If the Specialist feels that you cannot stay safe without emergency intervention, or that your safety is at immediate risk, he or she may talk with you about contacting those emergency intervention/services. However, this is never our first course of action and is only done if absolutely necessary.
ACCESSING VIA LINK CRISIS CHAT
VIA LINK Crisis Chat is available at vialink.org and operates 24/7, every day. If the chat service ever experiences technical issues, we encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
Here’s how it works:
- Click the “online” chat icon to the bottom right (starting a chat means you have agreed to our Terms of Service).
- Before the Specialist joins the conversation, you will be asked a few brief questions. Your answers are confidential.
- After you’ve submitted the brief questions, a live, trained Crisis Intervention Specialist will join the conversation.
- The Specialist will work with you to help you process your specific situation by providing emotional support and/or information or referrals to local services if needed.
Once you have ended your chat session, you will be given the opportunity to tell us about your experience with our services in a brief survey. Hearing directly from you allows us to develop programs and services that better fit you and your loved one’s needs. We would really appreciate your feedback.
Chat users are also asked during the pre- and post-survey if they wish to have the conversation transcript sent to them by email. Transcripts sent by email are optional to every user.
Terms of Service
VIA LINK Crisis Chat etiquette
- Use a computer or mobile phone with a strong internet connection to minimize disruptions.
- Use respectful language.
- Stay focused on the chat and respond consistently. Limiting multitasking can help.
- If you need to step away from your computer, let us know or end the chat, and come back when you have more time.
If the service appears “offline” or “busy”, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – we are available by phone call 24/7.
If you or someone you know is in danger or needs immediate medical attention, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
Chat Terms & Conditions
USE OF THIS SERVICE IS BOUND BY THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Please read the following statements before using this service. By using VIA LINK Crisis Chat, you agree to the terms described below. If you don't agree to the terms, you may not use this service.
Nature and Use of Information Provided through This Service
YOUR PARTICIPATION IN VIA LINK CHAT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MENTAL HEALTH CARE OR TREATMENT AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, A THERAPIST-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP OR ANY OTHER SORT OF CONFIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP. THIS SERVICE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL HEALTH CARE. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, CALL YOUR DOCTOR OR 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.
VIA LINK and any of their employees, volunteers or agents are not responsible for any decisions, or results of the decisions that you make while, as a result of, or after participating in VIA LINK Crisis Chat. This includes whether you choose to seek or not seek professional care, or to modify or terminate specific treatment that you are currently receiving. You assume all risk for use of this service. VIA LINK and any of their employees, volunteers, or agents have no liability for actions taken by you or a third party, or not taken by you or a third party, and you agree to indemnify us and hold us harmless for damages arising out of information provided through this service. Without limiting the foregoing, in no event shall VIA LINK be liable for any special, incidental, consequential, or indirect damages. This service is provided on an “as is” basis and “as available” basis. VIA LINK expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, and makes no warranty that VIA LINK Crisis Chat will a) meet your requirements; b) be uninterrupted, timely, confidential, secure, or error-free; or c) meet your expectations.
Privacy and Security
We take your privacy and security very seriously. Security controls, including encryption and authentication, are in place to ensure the protection of your information. Any information provided by you or collected on you will not be shared or disclosed with any third party. We do, however, reserve the right to disclose any personal information to the authorities at our sole discretion and as required by law. Despite these protections, the Internet remains an imperfectly secure environment, and VIA LINK cannot guarantee protection from intruders or interceptors. You agree to use this service and submit information at your own risk. You agree that VIA LINK has no liability regarding unauthorized access to this service by a third party.
Confidentiality of Crisis Chat
VIA LINK specialists take your confidentiality seriously. We do not discuss or release your information to any third parties unless you give us permission, or in circumstances in which we may be mandated by law to break confidentiality, such as the following:
- If the Specialist believes that you are an immediate danger to yourself or someone else and needs to contact emergency services to assist.
- In cases where reportable abuse is mentioned. VIA LINK Specialists are mandated reporters for abuse inflicted upon any of the following populations:
- Children under the age of 18
- Elderly persons over the age of 60
- Any person who is disabled
- Any person who is institutionalized, such as within a nursing home, hospital, or prison.
You are never required to provide the Specialist with any more information than you want to. VIA LINK Specialists will not make reports of any criminal activity for any reason other than those stated above.
Are all VIA LINK Crisis Chat communications secure and confidential?
The confidentiality and security of chats is ensured through the VIA LINK chat software provider, who uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other. All of your communications are securely encrypted from your computer to ours.
VIA LINK Crisis Chat can be used from a computer or a phone, and the service is mobile-compatible.
Conversations on the chatline are completely confidential and no record of the conversation will be stored on the device you use, unless users manually save content or opt to have the transcript sent to their email.
COLLECTION AND USE OF NON-PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION
We also collect non-Personally Identifiable Information, which is data that cannot be directly used to identify or contact you. We may collect, use, transfer, and disclose non-Personally Identifiable Information for any purpose, including but not limited to improving volunteer services, disclosing to third parties to generate support for VIA LINK Crisis Chat, or as required by funders.
Below are examples of the Information that we collect and how we may use it:
- We may collect information such as age, gender, and zip code to better understand our visitors and improve our service.
- We also may collect information regarding usage of Crisis Chat such as the conversation volume, average length of conversation, and other data. This information is aggregated and helps us conduct internal research so we can improve the quality of our service.
Modification of the Terms, Conditions and Privacy Statement
These statements may be modified from time to time. Any changes will be effective immediately upon posting. Each time you access this service you will be presented with the current terms, conditions and privacy statement for acceptance. When you use our services, we assume you have agreed to our most current policies and terms of service.
VIA LINK reserves the right to terminate your access if you violate these Terms, including by engaging in the prohibited uses described above or for other reasons not outlined here. For example, we might determine that you'd be better served by a different kind of support or that you require service beyond those that we can reasonably provide to you. VIA LINK may terminate or suspend your access to all or part of crisis chat services, without notice, for any conduct that VIA LINK, at our sole discretion.