Milton Keynes train passengers urged to make small talk to save lives

New campaign aims to help people with suicidal thoughts

New campaign aims to help people with suicidal thoughts

A NEW campaign has been launched in a bid to reduce the number of suicides on railways - and the key life-saving message is that small talk can save a life.

The UK Samaritans, British Transport Police (BTP), the rail industry and train operating companies are launching Small Talk Saves Lives to give travellers the confidence to act if they notice someone who may be at risk of suicide.

He told Sky News: "More and more we are dealing with mental health issues and people who are trying to take their own life".

British Transport Police say 237 people took their own lives on the rail lines a year ago - but for every death, six more lives were saved through interventions.

The idea behind this joint campaign by the Samaritans and Network Rail is to encourage commuters to look out for people who look like they might be struggling and perhaps imagining ending it all by chucking themselves in front of a train.

A survey of 5,000 people carried out by the campaign group showed 83% of passengers would approach someone who may be suicidal if they knew the signs, what to say and if they knew they would not make the situation worse.

"The important thing is when you're actually speaking to somebody is not to ask leading questions, ask open questions".

"We hope that Small Talk Saves Lives is the start of a much wider conversation about how suicide is preventable".

Michael Budd, has worked on the railways for 20 years and has saved many lives on the tracks. An even higher number, almost nine out of 10 thought a person in need of support would find it hard to ask for help. They range from approaching the person and asking them a question to distract them from their thoughts, or alerting a member of rail staff or calling the police.

"Suicide is everybody's business and any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life", said Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the Samaritans.

Ian Stevens from Network Rail, who manages the suicide prevention programme on behalf of the rail industry, said: "Given that almost five million journeys are made by train every day, we are asking for passengers to work alongside our staff as the eyes and ears of the railway, helping us to keep everybody safe".

Greater Anglia manager Scott Paton won the Samaritans Lifesaver Award at the National Rail Staff Awards in October 2016 after being nominated by colleagues for his intervention. You can call them on 0800 068 41 41.

"If it were your loved one, a daughter or son, husband or wife who was going through an emotional crisis, wouldn't you hope that somebody took the time to stop and ask if they were OK?" It makes sense to let the public know that this simple act can help. We're not suggesting people intervene if they don't feel comfortable or safe to do so.