Google Search to offer helpline support during mental health crises

Google has stopped selling online advertising in Russia. Source: CGTN.

KARACHI: Google has launched a suicide hotline one box for Pakistan. This feature enables users to connect quickly with a suicide helpline at the top of the search results page.

Anyone in Pakistan searching for suicide-related queries such as ‘suicide support’, ‘how can I commit suicide’ will now be shown the ‘Umang Pakistan’ helpline. Recognized by the WHO, Umang is a mental health helpline that offers support to vulnerable Pakistanis ideating or planning suicide.

This partnership between Umang and Google aims to help tackle the rising issue of suicides in Pakistan. According to WHO estimates, there are around 130k to 270k cases of attempted suicide in Pakistan each year. Meanwhile, Search interest in mental health issues has been on the rise. Topics such as ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’ and ‘suicide’ all peaked in the 2020-21 period in the country, according to Google Trends.

Farhan Qureshi, Regional Director, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, at Google shared “As we see from Trends, Pakistanis are looking for answers about their mental health. We understand time is of the essence when searching for help, especially for those who may be facing suicidal thoughts. We hope that this feature aids vulnerable users in finding help in times of need.”

Kinza Naeem, Founder & CEO Umang Pakistan also shared “Mental health is the biggest unaddressed problem of our era, specially at a place like Pakistan where more than 40% of the population is suffering from some degree of mental health issues. We are utterly grateful to google for this timely partnership. I am certain that together we will be able to reach out to the maximum number of people in dire need of mental health support and break the taboo around it nation-wide.” This Search update will be available on both desktop and mobile (Android/iOS)

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