Suicide prevention on the railway

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

In 2015/16 there were 252 suicides on the railway – 35 fewer deaths than the year before. We believe our world leading suicide prevention programme has contributed to this significant 12 per cent reduction.

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 suicide causes.

Working closely with other organisations

In partnership with the wider rail industry, Samaritans and British Transport Police our suicide prevention programme aims to reduce suicide on the railway. We work closely with other suicide prevention experts, national agencies and charities such as Public Health England and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) to develop and maximise its impact.

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 target of a 10 per cent reduction in suicides by 2020/21, with appropriate resources to be made available to ensure it is achieved
  • supporting the implementation of compulsory suicide prevention training for all those in the health sector
  • working with schools to make young people aware of mental health issues to allow them to look after themselves and others.

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 considering taking their own life on the railway – to date, 13,000 Network Rail employees have received training to intervene in suicide attempts, preventing around 220 deaths per year
  • working in partnership with Samaritans within the wider community to de-stigmatise suicide and promote help-seeking behaviour
  • traditional mitigation measures, such as fencing to prevent access to the tracks
  • developing new ways to meet the suicide challenge on the rail network, such as a smartphone app for customers to alert us to those they consider to be at risk on the railway
  • contributing our specialist knowledge of suicide prevention to national strategies and guidance so others can benefit from our experience.