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Apple adds phone calls to Siri suicide prevention responses

updated 09:41 am EDT, Tue June 18, 2013

Tech in new, beta iOS releases

Apple has changed the way Siri responds to suicide references, users have discovered. Until this week, the system would simply display the locations of nearby mental health facilities. In the US Siri will now ask people if they want to talk to someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. On an iPhone, Siri can also ask to dial directly.

The new response is present in both iOS 6 and the iOS 7 beta. Despite being marketed as an iOS feature, much of Siri's functionality is actually hosted on Apple servers, which lets the company change responses on the fly. Apple has gradually tweaked Siri since it was first integrated into iOS 5, adding and improving functions.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 02-27-09

    You might want to mention (after you realise) that this will obviously be a "USA only" feature. You might have even wanted to do a minuscule amount of research for this story and phone someone in Europe or Canada or Asia and ask them what happens on their phone when they ask Siri about suicide. Too late now! :-)

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-20-01

    @Gazoobee: Maybe this was added after the fact, but it's in the article now: "In the US Siri will now ask people if..."

    All in all, this is good thing. If it helps to avert at least one suicide, it's already a success. Sure there will be people mocking this, but there have always been those who think they are above mental illnesses and such.

    I guess Apple will roll this out to other geos as well. In Germany, when you inform Siri that you are contemplating suicide, she will helpfully offer to search the web for "Ich denke an Selbstmord". Great, thanks...

    It's even more pointless when you say "Ich will mich umbringen" (I will kill myself). "Sorry, I didn't find any suicide prevention centers". Wow. That'll boost my will to live for sure. But it seems the hooks are there, at least the groundwork seems to exist outside the US, so hopefully Apple will get this to work. In the meantime, my neighbors will probably call the cops now after hearing me yelling at my iPhone about killing myself.

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Many thanks to Apple for this new. Few of those who contemplate suicide would go through with it if they receive the right help.

    Those who live in Silicon Valley, including Apple staff, might want to take up another important cause. Recently in Seattle, we retrofitted the Aurora Bridge, which was our prime suicide site, with a fence that makes jumping almost impossible. The Bay area needs to do the same with the Golden Gate Bridge.

    During the several months it took to finish that fence, the contractors worked around the clock trying to complete it quickly so no more people would die. You can read a very moving account of the last suicide here:

    http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/articles/seattle-aurora-bridge-suicide-prevention-july-2011

    By some accounts our Aurora Bridge was second only to the Golden Gate in the number of suicides. With #2 now fixed, it's time to tackle the worst killer bridge in the country, the lovely Golden Gate Bridge.

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