Google wants to keep you alive. The New York Times reported yesterday that any searches related to suicide techniques will now bring up the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline accompanied by a bright, red telephone icon as the first result on the page. This is the second time that Google has offered a helpful telephone number to go with troubling search terms. A few months ago, the search engine added the phone number for the national poison control hotline when users search terms like “poison emergency”.
While both of these additions are clearly both helpful and noble, it’s interesting to imagine how far Google will go with these “helpful” search results. Will there come a future where nerds searching for “Felicia Day+hot pictures” will get them only after scrolling through links to dating tips sites, eHarmony, and, let’s face it, the suicide prevention hotline? Do we really want our search engine to also be our unsolicited therapist?
Until then, though, kudos to Google for keeping their users healthy and safe. (And generating ad inventory!)
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