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 is 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 2020. 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

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.

6 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!

  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.

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