Google wants to help people compose messages that could help them in “reaching out to someone they trust.” In its plan, the search giant shared to roll out the feature to US-based users first, allowing them to access a selection of pre-composed messages that will automatically be pasted to their messaging app.
According to Google, it has been seeing a continuous increase in searches related to mental health crisis. In relation to that, the company rolled out an update in its search engine system last year using AI to detect suicide-related searches and suggest resources. Google now wants to beef things up further by offering people in crisis ready-to-send messages they can send to their trusted contacts.
“When someone is in a vulnerable situation, it can be difficult to put this experience into words and know what to say to ask for help,” shared Dr. Megan Jones Bell, Consumer and Mental Health Director at Google. “To better support people reaching out to someone they trust, starting soon in the U.S., when someone searches for suicide-related terms, they’ll see a prompt with conversation starters they can send via text message.”
As Bell detailed, the pre-written messages were composed with the help of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. They will be shown below the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and are supposed to “reduce the stigma of reaching out to ask for help.” Each suggested composition will display a short context of what the message is about to help people in crisis quickly choose the right one that suits their needs. For instance, there will be a dedicated message to help them “reach out,” “contact a loved one,” “express your feelings,” or just “check in.” There will also be a “Send a text” button in each pre-composed message that people in crisis can tap. The selected message will then be pasted into the messaging app, with the option to edit or send it as it is.
The announcement follows Google’s recent actions to better modify its platform in helping people in crisis. As the company said, “People often turn to Google Search in some of their most vulnerable moments.” As such, Google recently made updates involving eating disorder-related content on YouTube by adding age restrictions and a crisis resource panel under such videos and removing “certain content that shows or describes disordered eating behaviors such as binging or purging.”