Railway safety and crime

07.11.18

More people stepping in to stop suicides on the railway

More members of the public are stepping in to prevent suicides on Britain’s railways, according to figures published by Network Rail.

There was a total of 163 cases of people acting to prevent a suicide on the railway between January and September, compared to 136 during the same period in 2017, according to data from the British Transport Police published by Network Rail.

The 20% increase in public interventions comes as Network Rail and the British Transport Police, in partnership with the Samaritans charity, launch the next phase of a campaign to use small talk to save a life.

The Small Talk Saves Lives campaign was launched last November to “raise awareness of the simple measures ordinary people can take to help someone at risk of taking their own life,” and aims to encourage rail passengers to try and engage in small talk if they notice someone who might be at risk.

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of Samaritans, said: “It’s really heartening to see more members of the public feeling they have the confidence and knowledge to act if they’re worried about someone, and we’re grateful for their support.

“Suicide is preventable and any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life. And a study shows some of us make small talk more than ten times a day.

“A phrase as simple as, ‘I can’t believe this weather,’ could be enough to interrupt a person’s suicidal thoughts.”

The campaign encourages rail passengers to notice warning signs such as a person looking isolated or withdrawn and staying on the platform for a long time without boarding a train.

It said that there is no single sign or combination of behaviours, but if something doesn’t feel right then “the message is to act” and encourages passengers to use the same small talk we use every day.

Head of prevention at Network Rail, Ian Stevens, said: “We’re working hard across the rail industry to inform both our staff and customers of the important role they can play in suicide prevention, not only on the railway but in their communities, too.

“One life lost is one too many; we want to highlight how suicidal thoughts can be interrupted, and that people can and do recover.”

 Image credit -  Jonathan Hordle/PA Wire/PA Images

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