Apple tweaks Siri responses to help prevent suicides

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple often touts how its products affect the lives of their users, and a recent update to Siri suggests that the company is committed to doing what it can to save those lives as well.

suicide it's a suicide


When the iOS digital assistant Siri is presented with a user that indicates he or she is considering suicide, the program will offer to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Before this most recent addition, Siri would show the locations of centers but not offer to call them.

The change to Siri's recommendations will be a feature in both iOS 6 and iOS 7. On devices without a calling feature, such as the iPad and the iPod touch, Siri will list and read off the NSPL phone number, but will then search for nearby suicide prevention centers.

The change appears to be a server-side alteration to Apple's digital assistant. Previous alterations have made Siri less tolerant of long-winded questions and improved her ability to tell and take jokes.

Apple's forthcoming iOS 7 update will give Siri even more capabilities, including the ability to control settings, search Twitter and Wikipedia, and search Google or Bing. Siri will also gain additional voice options, giving users the ability to a male or female voice for the digital assistant.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46


    Good on Apple

  • Reply 2 of 46
    mhiklmhikl Posts: 471member
    Good move, Siri. She may be just an electronic voice but the thought originated from a human source. May not be a hug, but always, even in desolate moments, there will be someone somewhere who cares.
  • Reply 3 of 46
    So, just a followup question to the last few lines of this article: has Apple officially clarified that you can choose between Bing and Google with the new Siri? I know that right now, you can choose your preferred search client, but that's because Siri pushes the query to Safari. In the demo during WWDC the search results were pulled up, via Bing, in Siri, not in Safari.
  • Reply 4 of 46
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member


    I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 

  • Reply 5 of 46
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    This is awful news.

    How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

    Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.
  • Reply 6 of 46
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post


    I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 



     


    That would probably *increase* the suicide rate, not decrease it.  

  • Reply 7 of 46
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    This is awful news.

    How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

    Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.

    So you think Apple isn't smart enough to know to call that number only in the US? Not to mention that it's an 800 number. I thought 800 numbers wouldn't work outside the US, anyway.
  • Reply 8 of 46
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by toolsoldier View Post



    So, just a followup question to the last few lines of this article: has Apple officially clarified that you can choose between Bing and Google with the new Siri? I know that right now, you can choose your preferred search client, but that's because Siri pushes the query to Safari. In the demo during WWDC the search results were pulled up, via Bing, in Siri, not in Safari.


     


     


    With iOS 7, Siri will search using Bing UNLESS you tell her verbally to use Google. Search settings for Safari will be set at Bing for default. This makes sense because 1) most people will not care or notice the difference, 2) Google is on Apple's naughty list, and 3) people who really care can use the Google search app or tell Siri to use Google. 

  • Reply 9 of 46
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Nice thought, but I doubt it will have any impact. There are two types of people committing suicide. The first type is someone that would actually do it. They are looking for information about the best way to do it. This type won't pay one bit of attention to Siri's response. The best chance you have to deter someone like this is to convince them the best way to do it is using certain materials/methods.....knowing that it will take them time to gather the resources to do it. The time allows the suicidal emotion to fade.
    The second type of person is someone that won't actually do it. These people want empathy or attention. These are the type of people that cut their wrists, stand on bridges but don't jump, etc. These people will have a much better response to Siri. However, since these people don't usually kill themselves, Siri won't have much impact.
    Still, the Siri response is the right thing to do.
    If it were up to me I'd say funny things like, "I would be happy to help you off yourself, but unfortunately its illegal" Or, "Whatever you do, don't get caught trying to kill yourself, its illegal" Or, "don't get too discouraged if you fail, many before you have failed."
  • Reply 10 of 46
    gustavgustav Posts: 825member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    So you think Apple isn't smart enough to know to call that number only in the US? Not to mention that it's an 800 number. I thought 800 numbers wouldn't work outside the US, anyway.


    800 numbers work internationally. You get to specify which countries can reach you when you sign up for your 800 number.

  • Reply 11 of 46
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    After suicide inquiries directed at her, couldn't Siri also give incorrect locations for train lines, incorrect times for buses, direct individuals to shorter, instead of taller, buildings, and maybe tell a few jokes to cheer the person up?
  • Reply 12 of 46
    When do we get our Siri API? Two years and counting..
  • Reply 13 of 46
    macvicta wrote: »
    I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 

    Well-intentioned thought, but Siri is not a licensed suicide prevention counselor.
  • Reply 14 of 46

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


     


    With iOS 7, Siri will search using Bing UNLESS you tell her verbally to use Google. Search settings for Safari will be set at Bing for default. This makes sense because 1) most people will not care or notice the difference, 2) Google is on Apple's naughty list, and 3) people who really care can use the Google search app or tell Siri to use Google. 



     


    Groovy,


    I knew that, with Google and Apple at odds, this was a move on the part of Apple to distance themselves further from Google, but I also like having the choice.  Right now I know that you can set Google as your default search engine on Safari, and was just curious if Siri would use your default search engine.  In any case, if I can specify which search engine to use when speaking with Siri then I'm happy.

  • Reply 15 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member


    I don't think that computers should be in the business of preventing suicides. If somebody has the intention of ending their life, then I doubt that any computer voice is going to stop them.


     


    SIRI should just tell the person "look, things could be a lot worse. Consider yourself lucky that you are not on Android, because the lag would've surely caused you to blow your brains out a long time ago."

  • Reply 16 of 46
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,584member
    [quote name="Gazoobee" url="/t/158114/apple-tweaks-siri-responses-to-help-prevent-suicides#post_2348371"]This is awful news.

    How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

    Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of
  • Reply 17 of 46
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,584member
    Assuming your posting isn't a joke, there's nothing that says it won't be localized and even if it's not, is cost of a phone call really an issue if you're about to kill yourself anyway?
  • Reply 18 of 46
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post



    Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.


     


    If somebody's already dead, I would think that a phone bill would be the least of their concerns. image

  • Reply 19 of 46


    I thought maybe they had Siri stop giving responses such as, "Wow, that was a really stupid question, you should help clean up the gene pool by killing yourself."

  • Reply 20 of 46
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Yet Siri refuses to call 911
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