New campaign encourages public to intervene to help prevent railway suicides

Rail commuters in the Milton Keynes area are being asked to take part in a new suicide prevention campaign.

Samaritans, British Transport Police (BTP) and the rail industry are launching Small Talk Saves Lives to give travellers the confidence to act if they notice someone who may be at risk of suicide on or around the rail network.

Small Talk Saves Lives asks the public to trust their instincts and look out for fellow passengers who might need help.

The campaign aims to give the public the tools to spot a potentially vulnerable person, start a conversation with them, and help save a life.

Samaritans CEO, Ruth Sutherland said;

“Research for this campaign showed 73% of the public would expect somebody to approach their loved one if they were upset in a public place.

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

Passengers have a key role in suicide prevention

Research showed passengers have a key role to play in suicide prevention. The majority are willing to act, but many wanted guidance on how to help. They also wanted reassurance they wouldn’t ‘make things worse’.

The campaign draws on insights from successful interventions made by some of the 16,000 rail staff and BTP officers who’ve been trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention.

For each life lost on the railway, six are saved.

The hope is that by appealing to members of the public, the number of life-saving interventions being made across Britain will increase further.

Ian Stevens from Network Rail, who manages the suicide prevention programme on behalf of the rail industry, said:

“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?”

Small Talk Saves Lives encourages passengers to notice what may be warning signs. Such as a person standing alone, looking withdrawn, or staying on the platform without boarding a train.

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.

British Transport Police Chief Constable, Paul Crowther, national strategic policing lead for suicide prevention, said:

“We’re not suggesting people intervene if they don’t feel comfortable or safe to do so. They can tell a member of rail staff or a police officer – many of whom have been trained by Samaritans – or call 999.”

Small Talk Saves Lives - new rail campaign to prevent suicides

The more that people understand that suicide is preventable, the better

Sarah Wilson felt suicidal and planned to take her life on the railways, but didn’t as somebody reached out to her. She said:
“Someone showing that they cared about me helped to interrupt my suicidal thoughts and that gave them time to subside. The more that people understand that suicide is preventable, the better.”
Head of West Coast services for London Midland, Steve Helfet, said:
“The message is very clear- the smallest conversation can save a life. It’s that simple – you can save a life with just a few simple words. Those words can make a person feel valued and connected again. Just a few words to save a life.”
Find out more about Small Talk Saves Lives at:
You can also support by following the campaign on Instagram, sharing the video on Twitter
or liking the Facebook page using the hashtag #SmallTalkSavesLives.