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10.43 15 Nov 2017


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Commuters in Britain are being urged to intervene to help prevent railway suicides.

People are being asked to take part in a new campaign on UK railways that would involve them spotting vulnerable people and talking to them to interrupt their suicidal thoughts.

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.

Organisers are asking the public to trust their instincts and look out for fellow passengers who might need help, as illustrated in a new film.

It features Sarah Wilson, who had planned to take her life but didn't as somebody reached out to her.

Ms Wilson says: "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.

"I hope people will share the video and that the campaign will encourage people to trust their gut instincts and start a conversation if they think someone could need help. You won’t make things worse, and you could save a life."

Sarah Wilson’s name has been changed and her role in the video is played by an actor.

Network Rail says: "By highlighting that suicidal thoughts can be temporary and interrupted with something as simple as a question, 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.

"Small Talk Saves Lives has been developed after research showed passengers have a key role to play in suicide prevention.

"Further research showed the majority are willing to act, but many wanted guidance on how to help, and reassurance they wouldn’t ‘make things worse".

London Underground | File photo

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

It says for each life lost on the railway, six are saved. by those around them.

It hopes that by appealing to members of the public, the number of life-saving interventions being made will increase further.

A survey of people who travel by train, carried out for the campaign, revealed that more than four out of five would approach someone who may be suicidal if they knew the signs to look out for, what to say, and that they would not make the situation worse.

An even higher number, nearly nine out of 10, thought a person in need of support would find it hard to ask for help.

While 73% of the public would expect somebody to approach their loved one if they were upset in a public place.


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