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Increased staff training having ‘real impact’ on reducing railway suicides

On the railway, the prevention of suicides is a sad necessity that all staff increasingly need to be trained and prepared to deal with.

But today, information released by the Samaritans has showed how a growing number of people working on the railway are being trained to deal with these difficult situations – and that this is having a positive effect on the number of people who take their lives on the railways.

Over the last couple of years, the Samaritans has worked alongside Network Rail, the British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry to increase the number of potentially lifesaving interventions that are carried out to talk down people considering committing suicide around stations and tracks.

The charity said that 15,000 railway staff have now been trained to prevent people from taking their own life, making up around one in six of the workforce.

Between April 2016 and the end of March this year, nearly 1,600 crucial interventions were made across the rail network by staff and police, which is an impressive increase of 40% on the previous year.

On top of that, the number of suicides and suspected suicides on the network actually went down in this time period, from 253 to 237 – the lowest yearly figure since 2010.

CEO of Samaritans Ruth Sutherland stated that the figures showed how training programmes being led by the charity were having a “real difference” in reducing railway suicides.

“But suicide is everybody’s business and we want to see the same dramatic reduction in suicide figures in general,” she said. “We look forward to taking this learning to a wider audience and having an even greater impact on suicide numbers in the coming years.”

Ian Stevens, who manages the suicide prevention programme on behalf of the rail industry, commented: “It’s encouraging to see the number of suicides on the railway fall for the second year in a row, and hopefully this trend continues in line with our ongoing suicide prevention work.

“As the operators of the rail network in Britain, we have a responsibility to keep passengers, staff and members of the public safe,” Stevens added. “Alongside physical measures such as new barriers, fencing and lighting at stations, we will continue our work with Samaritans to prevent suicides and break down the stigma associated with mental health issues.”

And Mark Smith, National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health lead for BTP, added that one of the organisation’s contributions is through the work of its suicide prevention and mental health teams, which have NHS Psychiatric nurses working alongside police officers and staff.

“These teams work with statutory and third sector partners to help those people that come to the railway in mental health crisis or suicidal circumstances, access effective care pathways and get on the road to recovery,” explained Smith.

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Elizabeth Mcglone   11/07/2017 at 16:59

Great post! Increasing staff in railway section is good for this section. This all staff can be very helpful for passenger. It's good decision.

Niall Lazenby   17/07/2017 at 10:01

Really important post! Glad to see that things are being done about the tragedy that can sometimes behold the railway industry. I received training at work on how to deal with at risk people, and what to do if you come in contact with them and would massively encourage everyone to do it because you never know when you might be the person who is having to deal with someone in need. There's loads of courses, but from personal experience I would recommend Keystone training

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