Can Technology Save Lives?



Walk with me.

We’re going into a coffee shop, and we see twelve people inside. On their phones, having conversations, sipping lattes and tea. But something’s off. We can’t put our finger on it, but we can feel it. Sadness. It permeates the air.

What if I told you that every single one of those twelve people was contemplating suicide? Contemplating ending their life today. Every single one.

What would you do?

The answer is: SOMETHING! You would do something. You would reach out to each person, one-on-one. You would stand up and offer words of love and encouragement. You would run into the streets and shout for help. Something.

Now, what if I told you that in Canada alone, 12 people commit suicide each day and 300 more make an attempt. What if I told you that over 8,000 people a month search "how to kill yourself..."

What would you do?

HowToKillYourself.org

When we first checked in 2016, if someone struggling, someone in despair, someone without hope searched “how to kill yourself,” the top result was 7 Easy, Painless Ways to Kill Yourself.

That’s disgusting. That’s horrible. That’s malicious garbage masquerading as “helpful” advice.

Two web developers, a communications manager and a psychotherapist got together at a FaithTech Hackathon and said, “We’re going to do SOMETHING.” So they bought the domain, howtokillyourself.org. When someone struggling, someone in despair, someone without hope, finds their site, they are met with three simple words: YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

Instead of tips with which to end their lives, they find tools to help them cope, to make it through the day, to see a glimmer of light in the darkness. They find words of comfort like this: “We’d like to help you make another choice. It might feel impossible right now, but you matter, and the world is better with you in it.“

Visitors can access chat options, suicide prevention numbers in their region, and hopeful, gentle articles in a completely non-judgmental, supportive environment. This team took howtokillyourself.org from an instrument of darkness and transformed it into an instrument of light.

You’re Not Alone

About a year after the launch of howtokillyourself.org, one of the developers was speaking with a friend. She was describing the site, the fonts, the colors, the content. Her friend stopped her suddenly and asked, “What’s the name of the domain?”

When the developer told her, her friend started crying. The night before, she’d gone online to figure out how to kill herself. She ended up on howtokillyourself.org. And it saved her life.

There is beautiful light in this. Remember, Jesus transformed a weapon of torture into a tool of salvation. We can live out His example. Technology gives us the opportunity to change and save lives. To be salt and light.

God Can Use Technology to Heal

My daughter, Anna, is a miracle. (I know, every parent says that!). During my wife’s pregnancy we were told by doctors she would not survive due to a rare issue. She was born three months early and weighing only two pounds and she came into the world with more challenges and struggles than some people see in a lifetime. The first time I looked at Anna, I saw more wires and tubes than flesh. But I also saw the power of God’s love.

God affects miracles through modern technology, guiding the healing hands of knowledgeable people as they perform His work. Those wires and tubes and technology … through the grace of God, they kept my daughter alive. We are fortunate to live in a time when:

  • The Sick Can Fight. Leading research hospitals use AI tools to develop cures for diseases, create personalized treatment plans for patients, and more accurately (and quickly) diagnose conditions.

    IBM’s Watson for Oncology, for example, allows doctors to input diagnoses and receive targeted treatment recommendations based on patient information and the latest research from countless medical journals.

    Another solution, VisualDx, offers physicians the ability to load images and symptoms into the database and access a list of possible diagnoses. For rare or commonly misdiagnosed conditions, this can be a literal life-saver.

  • The Deaf Can Hear. A team of students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf developed the first real time translation tech to convert sign language to grammatically correct spoken language. ISEEWHATYOUSAY captures spoken language and converts it into text, sending a message to a remote user’s device. Innovations like this are changing the way that the deaf and hearing communities communicate.

  • The Blind Can See. A headset developed by Aira utilizes a built in camera. Connected to a mobile app, it beams images captured to a remote call center. A human at the other end of the line provides voice instructions to the headset’s wearer. This can help visually impaired people navigate unfamiliar territory with more confidence and ease.

  • The Mute Can Talk. Darwin Ecosystem is working on “mind-reading” technology that will track brain waves, recognize patterns, and interpret meaning to help nonverbal individuals unlock the power of communication. Mind-blowing.

  • The Disabled Can Maintain Independence. Autonomous vehicles will soon help seniors and those with disabilities gain mobility - and the independence to live their lives more fully and fulfillingly. This tech will also eliminate 30,000 fatal car accidents in North America.

  • The Thirsty Can Drink and the Hungry Can Eat. The World Bank is using AI to fight world hunger and water shortages. AI can help them predict drought and famine, direct resources to strategic areas, and act more quickly and effectively to save lives.

And this is just the beginning.

All over the world, technology is saving lives. Jesus came to heal, and He still does in miraculous ways. He also heals through the technology he imprints on humanity. He heals through our own hands and hearts and minds.

What Will You Do?

Do SOMETHING.

Consider approaching your local church pastor. Tell them you want to do something with your unique skills. Consider reaching out to your city council. Learn about the greatest problems facing your city - and take action.

Consider getting involved in FaithTech Labs. We work on products that serve the marginalized, help the local church, and/or share the good news of Jesus around the world. Tech pioneers can access the tools, resources, and support they need to build solutions that save lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Contact a Labs team closest to you or reach out to us to learn more. This is how we are working to meet real needs with tech!

How will you use your gifts, your talents, your skills for the betterment of the world and in the service of God? How will you leverage technology to change and save lives?

What will you do?

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