Life-saving interventions on South East rail network rise by 32% in one year - video case study: Samaritans training - Ben West, from Network Rail Sussex

Friday 30 Jun 2017

Life-saving interventions on South East rail network rise by 32% in one year - video case study

South East

Suicide prevention measures put in place as part of the partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider rail industry are continuing to reduce deaths on the railway.

On Network Rail South East route, which operates and maintains lines from South London to Kent and Sussex, interventions increased by 32 per cent, from 192 in 205/16 to 253 in 2016/17. Kent increased from 125 to 163, and Sussex increased from 63 to 125. Both areas include their respective routes into Central London.

At the same time, suicides and suspected suicides on the rail network as a whole have dropped from 253 to 237** since 1st April 2016, showing a steady decline in rail suicides for the second year in a row. This means that rail suicides have fallen by 18 percent in two years and 2016/17 represents the lowest yearly figure since 2010.
Rail companies, BTP and Samaritans are continuing to work in partnership to encourage more people to open up and talk about mental health issues and suicidal feelings. As the new figures are released, the partnership is marking the 15,000th member of rail staff trained in suicide prevention.
Network Rail manager Ben West, from Sussex, intervened in a potential suicide in South London.

He said: "I was in the right place at the right time and the Samaritans gave the right things to look out for. The Samaritans training was very, very important. It really gave me structure and context and showed me how people can get into the frame of mind when they are suicidal. It also showed me how to approach them, and how to potentially bring them out of that cycle.”

Note - a clean version of the embedded video is avilable on request.

Ian Stevens, who manages the suicide prevention programme on behalf of the rail industry, said:
“It’s encouraging to see the number of suicides on the railway fall for the second year in a row, and hopefully this trend continues in line with our ongoing suicide prevention work. It’s great to be able to say that around one in six rail staff are now trained in suicide prevention, and that their commitment to preventing suicides on the railway is translating into actual lives saved on the ground. Put simply, we are now more likely to intervene and prevent people being injured or killed through suicide attempts on the railway.

“As the operators of the rail network in Britain, we have a responsibility to keep passengers, staff and members of the public safe. Alongside physical measures such as new barriers, fencing and lighting at stations, we will continue our work with Samaritans to prevent suicides and break down the stigma associated with mental health issues.”


Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said:
“The reduction in suicides on the railway shows that the partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail, BTP and the wider rail industry is making a real difference. But suicide is everybody’s business and we want to see the same dramatic reduction in suicide figures in general. We look forward to taking this learning to a wider audience and having an even greater impact on suicide numbers in the coming years.”

Last year, the ‘We Listen’ campaign was launched through the partnership with posters in railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales, highlighting the importance of seeking help if people are struggling to cope, instead of concealing their problems. The campaign can also be seen in hospitals, GP surgeries and at sports events, as well as on the side of buses.
Additional ways that the rail industry is preventing rail suicides include:
• Hundreds of kilometres of fencing have been installed across the network at locations where the risk of suicide is known to be high; this has significantly reduced the number of fatalities
• Improved platform markings, which exist for passenger safety, but for some at risk of suicide they also act as a psychological barrier
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and those from deprived communities are particularly vulnerable.

Contact information

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Latest travel advice
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Network Rail press office - Chris Denham
Media relations manager (South East route)
020 3357 7969
07515 626530

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