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Suicide prevention on the railway

How our world-leading, cross-industry suicide prevention programme with Samaritans is helping to save lives.

In 2022/23 there were 240 suicides/suspected suicides on the over ground rail network – a decrease of 7 from the previous year. 

In recent years, the rail industry has made significant strides in understanding rail suicide and vulnerable presentations and in deploying measures to mitigate the risk.  We continue to see suicide interventions, with rail employees, the Police and public intervening in more than 2,034 suicide attempts on the railway in 2022/23.  

Central to our programme is the belief that suicide is not inevitable and we can work collectively to reduce the traumatic loss of life and devastation that suicide causes. 

Photo credit Abbie Trayler-Smith/Samaritans

Working closely with other organisations 

We manage the risks of rail suicide and vulnerable presentations in partnership with the wider rail industry and British Transport Police. We also work closely with suicide prevention experts, national agencies such as Public Health England and charities such as Samaritans, Chasing the Stigma and Shout.  Our activities aim to reduce rail suicide and vulnerable presentations. 

We recognise the important role we can play in influencing and supporting a wider community-based approach to suicide prevention – addressing the challenge suicide presents to society as a whole and working with local authorities to ensure that suicide prevention strategies and measures exist for high-risk communities near the railway. 

National suicide prevention agenda 

The rail industry has become influential in promoting the suicide prevention agenda nationally, focusing its efforts around a number of calls to action including: 

  • working to de-stigmatise mental health and suicide and encourage vulnerable people to seek help 
  • supporting the Government’s strategy to reduce suicides  
  • promoting the concept that suicide is everybody’s business 

Our programme 

Our suicide prevention programme includes the following initiatives: 

  • training railway employees to look out for and offer support to people who may be vulnerable or considering taking their own life on the railway – to date, over 28,500 railway employees have received training to intervene in suicide attempts  
  • working in partnership with Samaritans and other charities within the wider community to de-stigmatise suicide and promote help-seeking behaviour 
  • developing new and innovative ways to meet the suicide and vulnerability challenge on the rail network 
  • contributing our specialist knowledge of suicide prevention to national strategies and guidance so others can benefit from our experience. 
  • Commissioning bespoke research into rail suicides and vulnerable presentations. 

Suicide prevention campaigns

Make a Connection 

Shout is partnering with Network Rail and the wider rail industry on a nationwide campaign. Make a Connection encourages people in and around railway stations across Britain to text the keyword ‘Journey’ to 85258 to access the Shout service and receive free and confidential mental health support, 24/7. 

Small Talk Saves Lives

The rail industry works in partnership with Samaritans and British Transport Police on campaigns with the aim of preventing people taking their lives on the rail network. Our most recent campaign is Small Talk Saves Lives, a bystander campaign that encourages people travelling on the railway to support those who may be in emotional crisis around them.

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