It’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, the month we acknowledge that we are aware of our disastrous mental health and then move on anyway because capitalism demands it. To mark the occasion, Google has announced that its US search results for suicide-related terms will soon be updated to include canned text messages asking for help.
The idea is that users can send these templates to someone they trust instead of having to muster the energy to express their feelings.
“People often turn to Google Search in their most vulnerable moments.” wrote Megan Jones Bell(opens in a new tab), Google’s Director of Consumer and Mental Health. “In the context of a crisis, it is crucial to inspire hope and provide simple information that is easy to act on.”
Google uses advanced AI to prevent suicide and reduce graphical search results
The canned messages will appear below 988 lifeline for suicide and crisis(opens in a new tab), which Google has ranked at the top of suicidal searches in the US since last year. Users can swipe through multiple message options on their phone, then tap the “Send SMS” prompt to open their messaging app and paste it.
Developed in consultation with the International Association for Suicide Prevention(opens in a new tab)Messages range from “I’m struggling and just need to talk to someone – can we chat?” to “Could you contact me when you have a chance?” I feel alone and suicidal and could use some urgent support.”
It is currently not clear if and how the feature will work on desktop. Mashable reached out to Google for comment.
Suicidal ideation message templates provided by search engines may seem like a dire sign of the dystopian times we live in. However, people who are severely depressed can have trouble even getting out of bed, let alone finding the words to tell someone that they would like to cease to exist. Not having to think about what to write should at least reduce the friction of reaching out.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are going through a mental health crisis, please speak to someone. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to the crisis text line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or by email [email protected](opens in a new tab). If you don’t like the phone, you should use the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Chat at Crisischat.org(opens in a new tab). Here is a List of international resources(opens in a new tab).