KARACHI: To tackle the rising number of suicidal cases as well as mental health issues, Google has launched a suicide hotline for Pakistan on Thursday in collaboration with ‘Umang Pakistan’ enabling users to get quick help at the top of the search result page as they browse anything related to suicide.

Recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Umang is a mental health helpline that offers support to vulnerable Pakistanis ideating or planning suicide.

According to the WHO, around 130,000 to 270,000 people attempt suicide in Pakistan each year. Meanwhile, search interest in mental health issues has also been on the rise. Google Trends suggests that topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide, peaked in the 2020-21 period in the country.

Google Regional Director of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Farhan Qureshi shared: “As we see from Trends [Google], 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.”

Umang Pakistan Founder and chief executive officer Kinza Naeem said: “Mental health is the biggest unaddressed problem of our era, especially at a place like Pakistan where more than 40 per cent 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,” she said.

The hotline update will be available on both desktop and mobile (Android/iOS).

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2022

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