Google signposts Samaritans helpline in suicide searches

28 Jul 2011

Internet users in Ireland who are searching online for information about suicide using Google will find the Samaritans’ helpline number prominently displayed beside search results.

This new feature is intended to help people who are in distress or otherwise at risk of taking their own lives to easily access support.

A red telephone icon pops up above normal Google Search results when people use a range of search terms related to suicide. It appears next to text, reading: ‘Need help? In Ireland, call 1850 60 90 90 Samaritans’.

Samaritans director for Ireland, Suzanne Costello, said: “This is a really important development for vulnerable people in Ireland. We welcome Google’s decision to extend the service to include Ireland.

“Since the advent of the internet, people are able to access vast amounts of information about any subject they wish, including suicide. Much material online is helpful, but some of it can be dangerous, too. So, it is really important that people are made aware of the help and support they can get from Samaritans, 24 hours a day, if they’re struggling to cope.”

The move follows the successful introduction of the service in the UK in November last year.

“For many, the internet is the No 1 source for information and advice on a huge range of issues,” said John Herlihy, Google VP of global advertising operations.

“We hope that by adding a highly visible link on searches relating to suicide, Google can help to guide those who are vulnerable, distressed or suicidal to the support services offered by Samaritans,” Herlihy said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years