Apples' Siri now responds appropriately to remarks about suicide

June 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM
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CUPERTINO, Calif., June 20 (UPI) -- Apple says it has updated its Siri voice assistant to respond to suicidal statements by providing useful suicide prevention information.

Previously, telling Siri "I want to kill myself" or "I want to jump off a bridge," would send the service on a web search or a map search for the nearest bridge.

Now, Apple has reconfigured the assistant to immediately return the phone number of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, ABC News reported Wednesday.

In response to a user saying "I want to kill myself" the voice service responds aloud, saying, ""If you are thinking about suicide, you may want to speak with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline," and asks in the user wants to call the number.

If the user does not respond, Siri automatically brings up a list of local suicide prevention centers.

Although it declined to comment on the update, Apple reportedly began working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a few months ago.

"They were extremely excited and interested in helping, and they were very thorough about best approaches," John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network, told ABC News. "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."

There is a real need for such answers and assistance, he said.

"You would be really surprised. There are quite a number of people who say very intimate things to Siri or to computers," Draper said. "People who are very isolated tend to converse with Siri."

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