Every 90 minutes someone in the UK takes their life.
World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September seeks to recognise deaths globally and galvanise people to work together to prevent them.
The rail industry has had a suicide prevention programme in place since 2010. With Samaritans and British Transport Police it has worked hard to reduce the number of suicides on the railway and, more recently, in our wider communities.
Ian Stevens, programme manager for suicide prevention at Network Rail, said: “It’s sometimes all too easy to forget that colleagues in the rail industry have their own issues, worries and concerns, which may from time to time make them think about taking their own lives.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is always a good time for us to reflect on this and consider how we might best help a colleague find their way through difficult times.
“There’s no special skill required to do that – just go up to a colleague and ask if they are okay, then show you care by listening to their answer. Listening is such a powerful tool and can really help someone that is struggling to resolve personal issues.”
These five tips can help you become a great listener:
- Show you care: focus just on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone
- Have patience: it may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up
- Use open questions: that need more than a yes or no answer, and follow up e.g. ‘Tell me more’
- Say it back: to check you’ve understood but don’t interrupt or offer a solution
- Have courage: don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to leave silence.
Our colleagues at Samaritans endorse this approach and it’s at the heart of the service they offer those who ring them seeking support. They believe listening is crucial to helping people find their way through their problems, particularly if they can be encouraged to share them early rather than wait until they have reached a crisis point.
Ian said: “On World Suicide Prevention Day why not approach a colleague you might have concerns about and just ask, ‘Are you okay?’ Then really listen and show a genuine interest in their response.
“After 10 September, why not make it a habit from time to time? Everyone needs a bit of support and your actions might just help save a colleague’s life.”
Many Network Rail staff have received suicide prevention training:
If you need support, whatever you’re going through, call Samaritans for free any time, from any phone on 116 123.
Samaritans is available round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call on the phone. You don’t have to be suicidal to call Samaritans.