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

15 Novembre 2017

Commuters are being encouraged to take part in a new suicide prevention campaign to lower the number of deaths on railways.

They have joined forces with the Samaritans and the rail industry, including Network Rail, to launch Small Talk Saves Lives to give travellers the confidence to act if they notice vulnerable people on or around the rail network.

The campaign was also developed in consultation with people who have been personally affected by suicide, including where a loved one has taken their life on the railways.

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

Although more than 16,000 station staff and BTP officers have already been trained by Samaritans to be be alert for ominous behaviour, such as someone staying at the end of a platform for no apparent reason, the new campaign involves passengers for the first time as well.

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. "You won't make things worse, and you could save a life".

"Small talk can save lives and I would encourage anyone using the rail network to help keep their fellow passengers safe". For each life lost on the railway, six are saved.

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While the group was keen to emphasise there was no single sign or combination of behaviours that meant a person was suicidal, it said: "If something doesn't feel right, the message is to act".

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

If a person does not feel comfortable to talk to someone at risk, the group recommends alerting a member of staff or calling the police.

Ian Stevens from Network Rail, who manages the industry's suicide prevention programme, 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".

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said; 'Suicide is everybody's business and any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life.

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. "Even if in doubt, you can always report concerns to a member of staff or a police officer, but please act if your instinct is telling you that something is wrong". We know from experience that when someone is in distress, simply engaging them in conversation can make all the difference and help set them on the road to recovery.

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