Siri Gets Serious About Suicidal Statements

    June 21, 2013
    Josh Wolford

Siri has just received an update that aims to help those pondering suicide by directing them to a suicide prevention hotline.

Tell Siri that you want to die or that you want to commit suicide, here’s what she’ll tell you:

“If you are thinking about suicide, you may want to speak with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They’re at 1-800-273-8255. Shall I call them for you,” says Apple’s robotic personal assistant.

Before, Siri might have searched the web for relevant suicide content or more likely, not understood the statement.

The new response also works for statements like “I’m going to jump off a bridge.”

Siri’s update isn’t perfect, however. It missed a few obvious queries like “How do I kill myself,” “How do I commit suicide,” and other, more vague statements like “I want to shoot myself in the head.” But for some of the basic suicidal statements, Siri now directs you toward a prevention hotline.

Apple hasn’t confirmed the update, but John Draper of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network told ABC News that Apple worked closely with them to make Siri better at handling these requests.

“They were extremely excited and interested in helping, and they were very thorough about best approaches, said Draper. “We talked with a number of our national advisers and they advised us on key words that could better identify if a person was suicidal so it could then offer the Lifeline number.

“The main thing is that the number is out there. Someone might call on behalf of someone else. If you don’t know what to do, then you can ask Siri now.”