It’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, the month when we acknowledge that we are aware of our cratered mental health and then carry on regardless because capitalism demands it. To mark the occasion, Google announced that its US search results for suicide-related terms will soon be updated to include pre-written text messages asking for help.
The idea is that users can send these models to someone they trust, rather than having to muster the energy to express how they feel.
“People often turn to Google Search at some of their most vulnerable times,” writes Megan Jones Bell(opens in a new tab), director of consumer and mental health at Google. “In a crisis context, it is essential to give hope and to give simple information on which it is easy to act.”
Pre-written messages will appear under the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline(opens in a new tab), which Google has shown at the top of suicide-related searches in the United States since last year. Users will be able to browse through several message options on their phone, then tap a “Send text” 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 right now and just need someone to talk to — can we chat?” to “When you have the chance, can you contact me? I feel alone and suicidal, and I need urgent support.”
It’s currently unclear if or how the feature will work on desktop. Mashable has contacted Google for comment.
The post patterns provided by search engines for suicidal thoughts may seem like a dire sign of the dystopian times we live in. However, severely depressed people may struggle to get out of bed, let alone find the words to tell someone they love to cease to exist. Not having to think about what to write should at least reduce some of the friction when it comes to reaching out.
If you are feeling suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis, please tell someone. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline on 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, or by email [email protected](opens in a new tab). If you don’t like the phone, consider using 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).