Google has launched a new suicide helpline service in Ireland with the aid of the Samaritans.
The Irish Times reports that anyone using the internet search engine to find information about suicide is now guided to the Samaritans helpline in Ireland.
The paper reports that the Google service is designed to help vulnerable people, who may be in distress and at risk of taking their own lives, to easily access emotional support.
A red telephone icon appears prominently at the top of the Google search results list with the text ‘Need help? In Ireland, call 1850 60 90 90 Samaritans’.
The initiative follows the launch of similar services in the US and Britain last year.
Suzanne Costello, director of the Samaritans in Ireland, had welcomed the move.
She told the paper: “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 people are made aware of the help and support they can get from Samaritans, 24 hours a day, if they’re struggling to cope.”
Figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office suggest that at least 486 people committed suicide in the country in 2010 but the figure may be higher.
Google executive John Herlihy told the Irish Times that the internet is the number one source for information.
He said: “We hope that by adding a highly visible link on searches relating to suicide, Google can help to guide those who are vulnerable.”