LifeLine Lies

LifeLine for Youth, LifeLine Behavioral Health, and Life-Line, Inc. which operate out of Utah, have misled the public about what they are. LifeLine tells parents that they are a therapeutic and safe treatment program, that they can fix virtually any behavioral problem an adolescent may have.

When I attended Life-Line, Inc from 1999-2000 they deprived me of even basic human rights. The right to communicate, with the outside world, or other people in the program. They deprived me of the right to move under my own volition, to use the restroom, or even what I was allowed to look at. I was not allowed to listen to the radio, watch television, or even read. I was once disciplined for reading a cereal box. I was given multiple strip searches a day. Later I had to perform the strip searches on others.

They controlled me completely. They gaslighted, accused, yelled, threatened, degraded, and humiliated me over and over again. Forced me to treat other people that way as a condition of progressing in the program. I was told constantly that without them I would be “Dead, Insane, or in Jail.” I was in a state of constant sleep deprivation. Most of the children in there with me were heavily medicated. I observed children being forced to exercise until they passed out. I witnessed children being put in an isolation room for solitary confinement. I witnessed children try to kill themselves in an effort to escape the abuse.

These practices are known as forced behavior modification. People have also described it as torture and abuse. According to a congressional report this is the same methods and practices that North Korea used on American POWs, and is what is used in so called re-education camps.

LifeLine was based upon the shuttered and discredited program founded by Virgil Miller Newton, KIDS Centers of America. LifeLine was in fact founded as KIDS of Salt Lake City [1] [2] [3] (Direct links to BES entities no longer work, but you can also visit Utah BES and search for the business name LIFE-LINE, INC or BES number 945126-0140). You can see their filing paperwork here. At the time they openly bragged about their ties to KIDS.

KIDS suffered so many lawsuits and abuse allegations, including a 4.5 Million dollar judgement against it, that it eventually shutdown. KIDS itself was a copy of the notoriously abusive Straight Inc, where Miller Newton worked before founding KIDS. KIDS used a near exact copy of the program that Straight Inc used. Straight was also shutdown due to many abuse allegations, investigations, and lawsuits.

In 1990, amid all the controversy over the KIDS program, the Utah location simply renamed themselves to Life-Line, inc [4][5], and continued to operate the same model. They eventually made another name change, to LifeLine for Youth. Somehow this simple trick of renaming themselves has allowed them to continue operating to this day.

Lifeline now claims that they moved on completely from the KIDS program when they moved to the Life-Line name in 1990. They claim they have had nothing to do with KIDS since then, that it was a clean break. But at the time they claimed “Treatment is still based on the Kids model”.

When I attended the program in 1999-2000 they were, in practice, if not in name, still running that same KIDS model, with a few minor adjustments. At that time the core of the KIDS program remained. They tried to make you “hit bottom” as they called it, but most would call it breaking a human being. They performed “Tough Love”, which in practice was mental, emotional, and psychological abuse. At that time the majority of staff were untrained, their only qualification for being there was having graduated the program.

I have had discussions with multiple former clients of Lifeline, that were there over a wide range of years, some as recently as 2022. They have relayed similar stories and experiences. Many of them told me that they felt like they were abused. I have also had multiple people tell me of even worse experiences.

I have also had discussions with multiple former staff members, that were staff over a wide range of years, some as recently as 2019. They have also confirmed a lot of the things I have described. That they felt like the way Lifeline operates harmed many of the children. Many have also told me they themselves were manipulated and abused. Some said that when they were hired, they were immediately expected to start caring for the children, and operating “group sessions” with no training.

If you are a Parent looking to place your child in a Residential Treatment Center, Wilderness Program, Boot Camp, Therapeutic Boarding School, Emotional Growth Facility, Residential Drug Treatment, Behavioral Modification Program, or any kind of Congregate Care Facility, I plead with you to reconsider. These “tough love” treatments do not work according to National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science (pdf).

The mental, emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical, or even sexual abuse they may experience could leave them with lifelong trauma. Many survivors of these programs report PTSD, C-PTSD, anxiety, agoraphobia, lifelong physical disorders and more. These so called tough love programs have been shown to produce less favorable outcomes, and commonly leave the person worse off than they were before. That same NIH study referenced before also concluded:

“Such evidence as there is indicates that group detention centers, boot camps, and other “get tough” programs can provide an opportunity for delinquent youth to amplify negative effects on each other.”

LifeLine Behavioral Health, LLC is a separate entity (BES search that name, or BES Number 9095955-0160), but the address is the same as LifeLine for Youth (1130 W Center St, North Salt Lake, Utah, 84054), the registered agent Shane Petersen is the current CEO / Executive Director of LifeLine for Youth.

I encourage you to follow the links and information provided, and to do your own research. If you are aware of changes that LifeLine has made to their program, and are willing to share specifics about those changes, please email me at: [email protected]

You may be interested in listening to fellow former LifeLine participants talk about their experiences:

Listen to a LifeLine survivor tell about her experience on episode 8 of the Surviving Straight Inc Podcast

A former LifeLine participant talks about his experience on episode 10 the Surviving Straight Inc Podcast

Episode 12 of the Surviving Straight Inc Podcast is with another LifeLine survivor. As with the previous episodes, names and dates withheld because LifeLine uses the legal system to threaten survivors.

If you are a survivor of LifeLine, know that you are not alone. I understand, and I believe you. Contrary to what they tried to convince you, you did not deserve the trauma and suffering you went through. Please feel free to share your stories on the testimonials page or in the comments below. You are also welcome to email me at [email protected] if you are more comfortable reaching out privately.

24 thoughts on “LifeLine Lies

  1. Hello I am a Lifeline survivor my name is Chandler Nordmeyer and I was there from February 23, 2006 until I myself freed myself by having the runaway June 1, 2007. I’m so happy that there is a website that may reach parents that are in distress so that they may know the truth Lifeline Utah so that their children can avoid the abuse and miss treatment trauma harassment prejudice an awful separation from their home families all under the guise of “help“ help well as we all know places like this service and help themselves and are self-serving keep on keeping on I love what you guys are doing I have so much more I could say about this but I’ve commented a lot on their YouTube page and on Lifeline‘s review page you’ll see me there. I hope you don’t mind if I come back and share more. I’m in a bit of a rush now but so happy to have found you!

      1. I am so sorry. All I can offer is some advice. Comply, do what they want so you can get out as quickly as possible, and try not to forget who you are, or to be coerced into believing what they want you to believe. Try to remember yourself.

  2. For profit to profit off of naïve parents and ones that are terrified. The cost and manipulation is unbelievable for what little services they claim to offer and do offer. It’s a great place go to if you want to expose your children to reparative therapy. Great place to throw a child if you want to neglect them and forget about their overall well-being and have them be raised by undertrained stranger for profits. Think about that. No really sit back and and ponder. If you do not understand what reparative therapy is look it up. Maybe this cold place is right up your alley and great for throwing your money at. No matter how bad of a parent you may think you are you’re better off trusting your instincts and acting like a parent rather than sending them here.

    You could mess up no worse as a parent than to send Your child here…..

    I’d like to check out the facility’s now Shane Peterson. Hey Place your kids here if you want them to be exposed to the worst kind of neglect and abuse and have your money be wasted their “educational system“ is a complete joke this place has a terrible record for the abuse that I’ve witnessed firsthand they don’t really try to help you there’s a heavy heavy heavy LDS bias bias and if you aren’t LDS or Christian You will have trouble advancing in this program.
    During my time here I saw homophobia galore. A terrible excuse for food every single day for a year and a half. children that we were just in there for being homosexual or because their parents didn’t know or didn’t want to raise them. this place charges an exorbitant amount of money and they will manipulate you while saying that your child is the ultimate most manipulative creature on the planet. Shame on Lifeline this place is awful and has been practicing what should be crimes for years and years and years held unaccountable.
    Why would kids have to be spending over a year or in a place other than their own home during a very important time of development -childhood. Well it’s very common for children to spend nine months to a year and a half up in this place so if you have about I don’t know $40,000 plus to have some strangers raise (abuse, neglect) and faux love and care for your child and or abuse them go for this place- I haven’t seen or heard of better in that department. Even being “helped” by the state (youth DT) was better than this place! This is one of the worst grueling experiences I’ve ever gone through. Nice masks by the way…. I know that this place does not have the ability to keep children at least 6 feet apart as it has its bottom junior staff watch your kids the vast majority of the time when you rarely see clinicians if you’re even lucky to see them once every three weeks and even then they aren’t that qualified knowledgeable or willing to work with those that are out off the cookie cutter LDS mold. I don’t think a single junior staff making minimum-wage that’s overworked really is going to be able to keep your children 6 feet apart in a cluster of a facility with masks on to. And in the mornings that’s all there is that watches you one person that is just recently graduated their own program being paid minimum-wage to watch your kids and yet you for Fork over top dollar daily. This place did not and does not allow anybody to talk for months and months and months and months. Plus they don’t even teach you real sign language! But lieu of real sign language (a useful skill to learn!) you’re “taught” their useless pathetic hand signaling system since they deprive you of your own voice. Imagine that a system that deprives of your own voice when you are developing do you think that that is healthy?!?! I’ll leave the choice is up to you! I pray you don’t send your children here. Sincerely Chandler.

  3. Thank you Chandler. I wish I would have done more research before I sent my son here. As of Oct 1st 2020 he is no longer in the program. He was admitted Aug. 9th.

    1. Well done Jennifer! You are more than welcome. Thank you for taking the time to hear my experience and knowledge. These places are really tricky, sneaky, and polished on the front- designed in a way to get one falling for their lies and false promises. I’m happy to hear your son is out of there and safe from Lifeline. Well done Mom!

  4. As a former client of the program Lifeline for Youth, I must speak up. I was there during the year of 2020. While I did not experience the full extent of Lifelines mistreatment, I will share what I had to endure. More nights than not, the clients were screaming back and forth with staff or one another. If you’re upset and overwhelmed they manipulate you into thinking that they have nothing to do with your state of mind, and that you have to solve your issues on your own. They do not offer assistance in proper coping, they just expect you to do it. I saw on multiple occasions, clients being grabbed by staff to the point of bruising. I overheard so many phone calls in which staff would tell the parental figures or guardians that their child was almost beyond help. They would assure the parents that they would be able to fix them because they found the program “just in time.” A client would hurt themselves and do so continuously, and the staff would stand by and drop their level, rather than taking the preventative measures and comforting them to a better point in which to talk through it. I overheard so so many hushed conversations between clients in which they would try to work through an issue, and staff would come and separate them because they “can’t do it on their own.” If you had an issue with a staff member, you had to file a grievance and were unable to bring it up in community. Community was a group that was held weekly to discuss issues between other people in the facility. Although staff was always there, you were NEVER allowed to confront them with the issue if others were around. Regardless of how much safer it made you feel having others in the room, staff issues were to be dealt with individually. I have heard of multiple instances in which staff has both neglected and abused clients. Many were so determined to seem better that the second they were let out for a day or night home visit, they relapsed. Lifeline is a very religion based program whether or not you choose to believe it is your choice. They tell parents that their kids will not leave until they are better, but when lifeline seemingly makes it worse, they restrict phone calls and communication with family outside of therapy. You are not allowed to converse with other clients about issues going on in your life, and if you do, there can be very serious consequences. The only time you are allowed to process any sort of trauma is in clinical group, and many times, not even then. It is difficult to gage the amount of abuse that occurred there in my time because those months have all blurred together, and most of my experiences have been forgotten. They dope you up on so many meds and act surprised when you act differently because of them. The clinicians/therapists will make you believe that you are the center of every one of your problems and that you are not allowed to be upset. Too many times I was told how different I was from every other client and how I didn’t want to get better. We would not be paying tens of thousands of dollars if I did not want to get better. They teach you that you are not allowed to assume what is on somebody else’s minds, but consistently assume what is on yours. You’re upset? Deal with it. It’s not their issue. A staff member harassed you? That sucks, deal with it. If you want to help your children, listen to them. Many times, they say what they need through their actions. Often times, much of it is environmental and needs to be resolved within their household, not a residential treatment facility. If you love them and truly want them to get better, work with them. For fear of the program itself, I will not be revealing my identity on this page. If you have questions, reply to this comment. I will do my best to reply to you.

    1. Cant say, I was just in lifeline for the beginning of 2021. It has not changed a bit. The clinicians do not care about what is best for you. They only care about what is following their guide lines. They are always about that “everyones treatment is different” bullshit. Yet they do anything in their power to make you do the same thing as everyone else. Residential was the worst experience of my entire life. I pray for anyone who may be dealing with this horrible brainwashing program. Telling you now, just go along with whatever bullshit they pull on you. You will be out of that hellhole faster.

    2. I was here during 2020 as well from May 13th to August 27th, I’m not sure if you were in there during that time, but thats true, it hasn’t changed. Some people went in and came out even worse, to the point of bullying others outside of the program and relapsing. I’ve stuck close to one girl I went with and we’ve both had to call the police for eachother. The program never helped. It almost killed me when I got out from the mental state I was left in. I’m sorry you had to endure going there, I hope you’re doing alright now, I know I still have nightmares and the trauma is very real, but it will eventually get better. Thank you for sharing!

  5. It’s funny I stumbled on this because I graduated from life line 2005 and yes it was hard but I learned about myself in there but I guess it all depends on who was your councelors because yet I didn’t want to be there from day one I turned 18 and didn’t leave. I’m not saying it’s good today or before but it did change my life for the better. But I had great counselors and a good group of kids in my group that really help me. But treatments all about trust so if you can’t trust anyone and let go then yeah it’s going to feel like prison

    1. How can you trust somebody when you have just been kidnapped in the middle of the night by people you don’t know without an explanation to be put in a place where you are stripped searched deprived of your human rights and all of this done without any oversight from any real certified institution government or the like. One isn’t strip searched by doctors or nurses its by fellow children. I’m glad it helped you and didn’t scar you, despite the inhumane nature of it all. It is depriving humans of basic human rights and inhumane humiliating ways forgive me if I cannot build trust in such an environment or after all that. It’s not really an environment that breeds that with such unnecessary confrontations over such a petty things, gay witch hunts and ridiculous traumatizing things of the like. You dodged a bullet I’m happy that you are good and still manage to trust people after that!

    2. Agreed. Everyone here complaining, its because you refused treatment and now please grow up and stop throwing yourselves a pity party. Lifeline isn’t perfect and nor is any treatment center. I was a client for over 11 months. I got setback more than 8 times and you know what? I’m not ungrateful like the rest of you. I put holes in walls, copped out, broke the FLC door down, and shattered the bubble window with my fist. I wouldn’t take it back for anything.
      This page is a complete fucking joke. If your still finding yourself pissed off about your experiences with lifeline, think about how YOU acted. It isn’t a walk in the park. It’s fucking life.

      1. My my what an inflammatory remark from you what’s up with your reaction? I’m expressing the truth that place is damaging and practices pseudo psychology Psychology and faux help at best. Chill out Kole you’re coming off cold,
        Inconsiderate, immature, and abrasive. Obviously the program didn’t help you to be a better person…. Or at least a more kind, insightful one. Still I ask what’s with your reaction? You must be a masochist to defend such a place Ah hahah.

        1. Hey I was there when you guys were and look, I am revisiting this traumatic experience as I have now just started a process of healing my issues with anxiety and OCD, it has been so many years, yet 10 months of hell there still gives me nightmares, i am so grateful my judge got me out at the time.
          If anything I would hope that children and teens are able to find help through individualized, professionally guided therapy which LifeLine definitely did not give me.

      2. Its very unhealthy to be as aggressive as you are in this post toward others sharing their personal experiences and feelings. You don’t have to agree or relate but you should be respectful and maybe try to see something from a different perspective. What is there to gain from shutting someone down or ranting about your perspective while others are talking about moments you were not present for and feelings that are not your own? Think about it this way, you don’t know everything and you’re not always right even though sometimes you are.
        This page is helpful for me. I was in Life Line from 2002-2004. I was a child who suffered trauma at a young age and was in desperate need of help by the time I was admitted to the program. It was the 2nd residential treatment program my parents sent me to by the age of 15 . When my mom apologizes, over 20 years later,, I hug her and remind her that she didn’t know what to do either. Did I always make the right choices or even know where to begin to be okay? Absolutely not. Hence my presence. Was i so out of control that i needed to sit stationary with arms straight in front of me, hands on my knees staring at the 12 steps, unable to speak or move or even ask for a moment to myself for hours upon hours each day for a year and a half? Probably not, right? Was i prepared at 14 to learn the very intricate details heavy addiction and abuse that surpassed my own troubling issues under the supervision of untrained recent graduates of the youth program? Absolutely not, again. Durring one of my first nights in a group meeting, I had to pee. I didn’t know the sign to tell the teenager that was assigned to monitor my every move what i needed nor did she care. When I tried to whisper I was reprimanded. I tried to stand up to walk to the restroom and was immediately the center of attention with several people trying to pull me back to my seat. And just like that I urinated on myself in front of everyone, a room full of youth, staff and clinitians. When i was escorted out of the room in silence a staff worker said loud enough for everyone to hear “seriously, you need attention that bad?”. And thus it began. By the time they tried to send me back to school on the 3rd phase my social anxiety was so overwhelming that I actively saught out pot from kids I didn’t know on day one. I got high, called my mom and walked back in the building with my shoes off refusing to go back. I spent my days listening to stories of rape, overdoses, violence and depression from kids that were just as lost as I was with Jim Smith pontificating to the room about the smoke and the fire having no idea what I was supposed to be learning. I watched dear friends try to suffocate themselves with aid bandages and plastic chairs and was never consoled or asked how i felt, I cried alone when we learned of graduates that committed suicide, sat in awe as 5th phasers that i idolized came through the doors strung out and desperate and I watched my parents fall into financial distress trying to make it all happen for us because they were afraid and thought they were helping us (my sister was there with me). The education provided was so far behind that I never truly recovered until I was an adult. I often think about brain development and how, under distress the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully develope and instead reverts to fight or flight. I don’t blame myself for what I didn’t know or hold guilt for my actions in such a volatile environment and realize why I struggled during my recovery process as an adult. Our parents did not know what was happening, the staff did not know what they were doing. Shane Peterson is not confused on his motives. Think of the money there is to be made off of the fear and desperation of a parent with a child in need. ADMISSIONS IS SALES. They had and have metrics and marketing budgets. There are still suicides every year, 20 years later and we still cry. So maybe you did well after being such an ass hat for your 11 month stint in the program but it remains true that other’s take away was not so fortunate.

      3. I was compliant the entire time I was there and they made fun of me and called me I a kiss-a** and a wimp. They held me back solely on the basis that they didn’t like my personality. I have tested as being on the autism spectrum so I think that was a big part of why I had trouble fitting in. I had 2 staff members flat out say basically “I know we’re not supposed to tell people when we don’t like them, but I really don’t like you”! Gee, I really trust you to treat me well and impartially if you feel like you can say that. Oh course nobody was witness to either one.
        I was there for over 2 years. I became chronically suicidal because I figured that was the only way out.
        Our M.I.s made us connect our past our current situation to our eventual death. I believe that alone caused many people to become suicidal because of daily repetition of that idea. My family eventually had to declare bankruptcy due to the cost of 2 of their children being there. My parents divorced a year after I got out and our family fell apart. Nothing good came of that place.

  6. i attended lifeline in 2017. My parents sent me there because i was a “troubled teen” but i was never in there for *TW* suicidal thoughts or attempts, but when i was in there for over a month all i could think about was how to take away the pain of being forced to not being myself, (sorry i hope this makes sense) i ended up trying to take my own life one night. that place is more damaging then it is good. one of the other girls that were in there with me committed only 3 months after she was released. that place is KILLING people, and for what? money.

  7. I attended Lifeline from 1997-1998. I know a lot of people didn’t have a good experience with it, but I LOVED Lifeline. I feel like the lessons I learned about the 12 steps and communication and searching and fearless moral inventory have helped me every single day in my life, to this day. Of course I had some times I didn’t like, but mostly I do feel like Lifeline improved my life and made me a better person. It taught me to be so compassionate, because every single person has a story. The kids in there need help and guidance. That’s what I received, and I am grateful for it.

  8. Personally my plan after 10 months in there was to do as many drugs as possible until it killed me, it definitely left me much worse than I was before. I am very blessed to be where I am today, about 16 years later and I am sober and well. I hope with new legislation they are able to really step in and put a stop to these types of programs that take advantage of parents who are stressed and scared and don’t know what else to do. I sincerely feel they prey on parents, there were dozens of children in there who absolutely did not belong in that extreme of a program

  9. How is this place still open!?! How does anyone working there sleep at night? How is there no oversight? What can we do?

  10. I was at lifeline over a decade ago. I spent nearly 2 years there because I refused to bend and continued to be “setback” – too many of the other kids I went with have committed suicide or overdosed since.

    I was groomed by a male staff there – he would sneak me treats and he made a plan to kidnap me with their big white van. There was some really disturbing and sexual things he would say to me. I was 16. He was 20. I spent far too much alone time with him, but at the time it felt like a better option than being there. No one was checking on me. I eventually told another girl and she told the staff and he was fired. I distinctly remember therapist Dan giving me a big sit down. They blamed ME for provoking him and used my sexual history I had disclosed in therapy as “proof”. Looking back I can see now that Dan was seriously concerned about my parents pressing charges. He sweet talked them out of it and I was setback in the program again.

    This is just one of dozens of incidents that occurred I could write a book on. I was completely brainwashed to tell everyone I was an addict. When I arrived they told me I was a cocaine addict(I hadn’t ever done it). I refused to admit it and they refused to let me uplevel. After MONTHS i finally “admitted” it and began making up stories about doing drugs. I was rewarded by phasing up. It was a sixk cycle. I learned the more i “got honest” about my past the more i was rewarded so i made up an entire fake life for myself.
    I became a real heroin addict after leaving. The brainwashing and psychological abuse were unbearable.

    There were multiple girls in who had absolutely no reason too- one girl was simply gay. Another was reading/writing some slightly erotic fantasy books – I am not kidding. That is all she was there for.

    I cannot believe this place is still open and Dan is still there. It needs to be burned to the ground.

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