The new tool, named R;pple, was launched on World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday (10.09.21) and aims to connect people in crisis with help, while also raising awareness of the absence of online interventions for those suffering with their mental health.
R;pple identifies keyword searches for terms relating to self-harm or suicide, then replaces harmful content with trusted sources of mental health support.
The browser extension is free to download, and comes after startling data conducted by analytics company Semrush found that Google searches for “suicide methods” have increased by 50 percent since January 2019, while searches for “suicidal thoughts” are up by 23 percent.
Semrush also found a 125 percent increase in searches for “suicide hotlines” from those attempting to seek help.
Text messaging support service Shout 85258 has reported a similarly dramatic increase, seeing an 85 percent increase in use of its services over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
R;pple was started by cyber security worker Alice Hendy, whose brother Josh tragically took his on life in November last year.
She said of the project: "I lost my only sibling, Josh, to suicide at the age of just 21. After examining Josh's phone and laptop, I found that Josh had been researching techniques to take his own life via internet searches, suicide forums and video tutorials.
“The content available online following a harmful online search is far too readily available and fails to provide enough of an intervention between a user searching for harmful content and the subsequent display of the search results. I want to provide people with a voice, choice, empowerment and control at a time when they are most vulnerable.”
A step by step guide on how to install R;pple on your chosen web browser can be found at https://www.ripplesuicideprevention.com/install.