Members of the public increasingly preventing suicides on the railway

Members of the public are making a significant difference in the number of suicide interventions on the railway in Britain.

There has been a 20% increase in the number of times a member of the public has acted to prevent suicide in the rail environment, according to figures from Network Rail.

There were 163 interventions by members of the public between January and September this year, up a fifth from the same period a year earlier.

The news comes as Network Rail and British Transport Police partner with charity Samaritans to launch the latest phase of the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.

Small Talk Saves Lives is raising awareness of the simple measures ordinary people can take to help someone at risk of taking their own life.

The campaign emphasises how each of us has all the experience we need to help save a life. If we notice someone who may be at risk, the same small talk we use every day is enough to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and encourage them to get help. Trust your instincts and start a conversation; you can’t make things worse.

Start a conversation

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. Even if small talk doesn’t come naturally to you, if something doesn’t feel right, please try to start a conversation. There’s no evidence you’ll make things worse.”

Ian Stevens, head of suicide prevention at Network Rail, 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. Realising another person cares enough to stop and talk to you can make all the difference. It can be the first step on that road to recovery.”

How you can help save a life

Small Talk Saves Lives encourages rail passengers to notice what may be warning signs:

  • A person standing alone and isolated
  • Looking distant or withdrawn
  • Staying on the platform a long time without boarding a train
  • Displaying something out of the ordinary in their behaviour or appearance.

There is no single sign or combination of behaviours that mean a person is suicidal but, if something doesn’t feel right, the message is to act.

Find out more about Small Talk Saves Lives

Instagram: @samaritanscharity

Twitter: @samaritans