Railway heroes save over 1,000 lives on Britain’s rail network in just a year: Neena Naylor, Network Rail train despatcher featured in Samaritans film-2

Monday 12 Sep 2016

Railway heroes save over 1,000 lives on Britain’s rail network in just a year

South East

Railway staff, police officers and members of the public have saved over 1,100 people in 2015/16 having intervened in potential suicide attempts on Britain’s railway.

  • Over 1,100 lives saved on the railway in the last year
  • 112 of these in Network Rail’s Wessex region, which stretches from Waterloo to Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset
  • Health Secretary commits an extra £1 billion in mental health services, which will benefit an additional one million people per year

Although the number of suicides on the railway nationally dropped by 12% in 2015/16, the figure to the south and west of London actually increased to 26 during the year, amounting to one every fortnight.

Stuart Kistruck, route managing director for Network Rail said, “Between our staff, the police and members of the public we’ve managed to save the lives of 112 people across the south and west of the country in the last year, but clearly there is still more we can all do.

“Through our partnership with the Samaritans, Network Rail has trained more than 11,000 rail staff and British Transport Police officers on Samaritans courses, of which 859 were in our region. The training has equipped them with the skills and confidence to identify and approach vulnerable people on the railway and lead them to a safe place.”

“To really make a difference we want to help get to the root of the problem. Suffering in silence can be fatal, which is why we’re supporting the National Suicide Prevention Alliance’s (NSPA) #ItsOkayToTalk campaign.”

Timed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, leaders from a number of organisations spearheading suicide prevention met at Network Rail’s London headquarters to challenge the taboo that exists, particularly among men, of talking about suicide.

The roundtable was attended by representatives from: the Department of Health, British Transport Police, Samaritans, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), Rethink and Network Rail, who discussed ways to drive down the suicide rates further, progress to date and what could be done differently in future.

Chairing the event, Network Rail’s chief executive and deputy chair of the Rail Delivery Group, Mark Carne said, “Any death on the railway is a tragedy which has a real emotional impact on the family and friends involved, and on our staff and customers. It’s a complex issue which the whole of society needs to work together to address.

“Men are three times more likely than women to die by suicide – it’s the single biggest killer of men aged under 50 in the UK. A large proportion of my 36,000-stong workforce are men and I want them to know its ok to talk – we must break down the taboo of talking about suicide. If anyone feels like they need support, it’s ok to ask for help.”

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said, “I pay tribute to the dedicated staff of Network Rail who are leading the way in preventing suicide. As a country, we tragically lose 13 people to suicide every day, and nearly three quarters of those people had no contact with NHS mental health services in the previous year.

“Though we are making progress, as one of the first countries in the world to launch waiting times for mental health services, giving people a guarantee on how quickly they can expect to be seen, we want to go much further. Our plans will see a million more people benefiting from mental health services every year, with £1 billion of extra money being invested to ensure everyone can get the help they need.”


The numbers:

  • 11,000 rail staff and British Transport Police officers have been trained on Samaritans courses
  • More than 1,100 prevented suicide attempts on the railway (2015/16)
  • 252 suicides/suspected suicides on the railway (2015/16). That’s 35 fewer suicides than the previous year (12% reduction) and the first fall in three years
  • The government has a target of a 10% reduction in suicides by 2020/21
  • 80% of people who die by suicide on the railway are men
  • Men are three and a half times more likely to take their own lives than women
  • Suicide is the biggest single killer of men aged under 50 in the UK
  • Only 28% of people who died by suicide in England between 2003 and 2013 were in contact with mental health services
  • In 2015/16, 69 people (one in five) who attempted to take their lives on the railway survived. Most were left with life changing injuries

Social media

  • Join the debate and use #ItsOkayToTalk on Twitter

Speakers at the roundtable included:

  • Jonathon Marron – director of mental health, Department for Health
  • Mark Carne – chief executive, Network Rail, and deputy chair of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG)
  • Rachel Watters, suicide prevention, Network Rail
  • Neena Naylor – train dispatcher, Network Rail
  • Ken Young – chief inspector, British Transport Police
  • Jane Powell – chief executive officer, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
  • Brian Dow – director of Rethink Mental Illness, and co-chair of National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA)
  • Jacqui Morrissey – head of external affairs, Samaritans and co-chair of National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA)
  • Poona Bell – executive editor, Huffington Post

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Owen Johns
Media relations manager (Wessex route)
07710 959476

About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
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