Today Google is making available a new search feature in the UK which triggers Samaritans’ 24 hour helpline for certain relevant search queries relating to suicide. The feature, which has been tested successfully for the last 6 months in the US, helps connect people who are depressed, suicidal or in distress to the information they need so they can seek help and advice.
Samaritans provide confidential emotional support 24 hours a day for people who are suicidal or experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Their telephone support number and a highly visible telephone support icon will appear on Google Search results relating to suicide. In the US the implementation of this feature saw a 9% increase in calls to the American support group National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Google’s UK Managing Director Matt Brittin said: “People turn to the Internet for information and advice all the time. We hope that by adding a highly visible link on searches relating to suicide, Google can help guide those who are vulnerable, distressed or suicidal to the renowned expertise and support service offered by Samaritans.”
Samaritans’ Chief Executive Catherine Johnstone said: “We welcome this positive step by Google and we hope this new search tool that promotes Samaritans’ helpline details will encourage distressed or suicidal people to seek help from a safe source.
“The Internet is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that allows people to access huge amounts of information, much of which is helpful but some of which can occasionally be dangerous. It is therefore important that vulnerable and distressed people are steered towards safe places such as Samaritans.
Google also provides advertising grants to UK charities, including Samaritans, via the Google Grants programme. On relevant search queries Google AdWords ads appear when users search on Google. When a person clicks on one of the ads, they are brought to the website of the charity organisation being advertised, helping connect them to information, advice and support right when they need it.