The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, launched its “Crisis Contact Simulator,” a proprietary, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered counselor training tool that simulates digital conversations with LGBTQ youth in crisis. Developed in collaboration with Google.org, the first-of-its-kind “Crisis Contact Simulator” will help train counselors and prepare them to support youth in crisis. The organization seeks to triple its number of digital volunteer crisis counselors during 2021.
The Crisis Contact Simulator is a new component of the organization’s counselor training program for its free, confidential, and 24/7 digital crisis services, TrevorChat and TrevorText. Trainees learn about counseling skills, LGBTQ identity, and more, and complete a number of role-plays to prepare them to speak with youth in crisis. In addition to participating in role-plays with staff instructors, trainees complete digital role-play conversations with the Crisis Contact Simulator.
The simulator tool allows trainees to practice realistic conversations with youth personas. “Riley,” the first Crisis Contact Simulator persona, emulates messages from a teen in North Carolina who feels anxious and depressed. In addition to Riley, the organization is currently developing a variety of personas that represent a wide range of life situations, backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, and risk levels.
Developed by The Trevor Project’s AI, engineering, and product team, the Crisis Contact Simulator is the culmination of the organization’s multi-year collaboration with Google.org through the Google AI Impact Challenge. The collaboration included $2.7 million in grants and the support of nearly 30 Google.org Fellows who worked alongside The Trevor Project’s staff to introduce machine learning and natural language processing into The Trevor Project’s platforms. In addition to the Crisis Contact Simulator, the collaboration also resulted in an AI-powered Risk Assessment tool, which helps the organization assess suicide risk and facilitates connections between the highest risk youth and a crisis counselor more quickly.
The Trevor Project currently has more than 700 digital volunteer crisis counselors in total and trains a new counselor cohort each month. In the U.S. alone, the organization estimates more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth seriously consider suicide each year, and at least one LGBTQ young person (13 to 24) attempts suicide every 45 seconds. The Trevor Project aims to triple its number of digital volunteer crisis counselors in 2021, and eventually grow the pool by 10 times so that it can increase the number of LGBTQ youth served each year. LGBTQ young people who contact The Trevor Project will always be able speak to a highly trained human crisis counselor, available 24/7 at no cost.
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy arm, combines funding, innovation, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. It engages non-profit organizations and social enterprises that make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change.
This was reported by The Trevor Project, Inc. on March 24, 2021.
Contact information: Kevin Wong, Vice, President of Communications, The Trevor Project, Inc., P.O. Box 69232, West Hollywood, CA 90069; 212-695-8650, ext. 407; Email: Kevin.Wong@thetrevorproject.org; Website: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/.