The first step was to identify the problem I wanted to address. I thought about Kevin Hines and how his fate might have changed if cellphones with Google had existed back in 2000 when he tried to take his own life.
Could Kevin have been redirected? Could he have been persuaded — by a few lines of ad copy and a persuasive landing page — not to jump? I wondered if I could redirect the next Kevin Hines. The goal of my first redirect campaign was to sway the ideology of suicidal people.
The problem my campaign addressed: Suicidal people are underserved on Google. In 2010, Google started making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline the top result of certain searches relating to suicide. It also forced autocomplete not to finish such searches.
The weakness of Google’s initiative is that not enough variations of searches trigger the hotline. A search for “I am suicidal” will result in the hotline. But a search for “I’m going to end it” won’t always. “I intend to die” won’t ever. A lot of “higher-funnel” searches don’t trigger the hotline.