Commuters in the UK are being asked to take part in a new suicide prevention campaign on the railways, which could save many lives a year and would involve them spotting vulnerable people and talking to them to interrupt their suicidal thoughts.
Samaritans, British Transport Police (BTP) and the rail industry, including Network Rail and the 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 on or around the rail network.
Small Talk Saves Lives is asking the public to trust their instincts and look out for fellow passengers who might need help, as illustrated in a new film that has gone live today.
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’.
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.
A survey of people who travel by train, carried out for the campaign, revealed more than 4 out of 5 would approach someone who may be suicidal if they knew the signs to look out for, what to say, and that they wouldn’t make the situation worse. An even higher number, nearly 9 out of 10, thought a person in need of support would find it hard to ask for help.
Small Talk Saves Lives encourages passengers to notice what may be warning signs, such as a person standing alone and isolated, looking distant or withdrawn, staying on the platform a long time without boarding a train or displaying something out of the ordinary in their behaviour or appearance. 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.
The emphasis is on responding in ways people feel comfortable and safe with. Different courses of action are suggested, depending on the situation and the response. 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.
Original article © Network Rail.
Find out more about Small Talk Saves Lives at: www.samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives.
You can also support by following the campaign @samaritanscharity on Instagram or by sharing the video on Twitter @samaritans or Facebook at www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity, using the hashtag #SmallTalkSavesLives.
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