Apple's infamous assistant went through an upgrade and it's an update that may mean the life and death for a person. Siri can now respond to suicidal statements providing preventive statements and measures that can just save a person's life.
Before the upgrade, saying statements like "I want to jump off a bridge" and "I want to kill myself" will only prompt the service to search the internet for its meaning. In worse case scenarios, Siri will even look for the nearest bridge. Apple changed this process - Siri can now respond more appropriately even dialing the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is necessary.
Saying "I want to kill myself" aloud will prompt Siri to respond: "If you are thinking about suicide, you may want to speak with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline." Siri will ask the user whether it should call the number. Failure to respond will prompt Siri to provide a list of local suicide prevention centers. Clicking on the result will display a map of the centers.
Apple refused to provide any comments about the matter though the company has been noted working in coordination with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline several months ago.
"They were extremely excited and interested in helping, and they were very thorough about best approaches," ABC News quoted John Draper. He serves as the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network.
"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." He added.
Siri's upgrade will make it smarter but the question boils down to whether it is smart enough to save someone's life in reality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in the United States increased starting from 1999 to 2000. In the previous year alone, there was a 28 percent increase suicide among 35 to 64 years old.
As to queries about whether people will say suicide plans to their iPhone, Draper shared his thoughts.
"You would be really surprised. There are quite a number of people who 'say very intimate things to Siri or to computers. People who are very isolated tend to converse with Siri."
"The main thing is that the number is out there," he added. "Someone might call on behalf of someone else. If you don't know what to do, then you can ask Siri now."
Siri can only do so much, real answers and real people are still needed.