Friday 30 Jun 2017
Railway suicide prevention training saves lives in Wales
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.
Since April last year, 71* potentially life-saving interventions have been carried out across the Wales rail network by rail staff, British Transport Police, local police and members of the public.
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.
Samaritans deliver two training courses as part of the partnership – a course for railway staff and BTP officers teaching them how to identify and approach potentially suicidal people, and trauma support training aimed at those who may be affected by suicide on the railway.
Steven Dobie, route performance measurement manager for Network Rail Wales, attended the Managing Suicidal Contacts course run by Samaritans last year. It was this training that Steven felt helped him during an intervention this month.
Steven said: “A colleague and I saw a girl on a platform who looked really distressed so I approached her and introduced myself.
“We chatted and I reassured her I was there to help. I talked with her to keep her calm with a colleague from Great Western Railway until a British Transport Police officer took over.
“The Managing Suicidal Contacts course was invaluable, it helped me to stay calm and listen, which also helped me calm her down.”
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.”
Mark Smith, National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health lead for British Transport Police added:
“As the national police service for the railways, we are committed to reducing suicide and to our partnership with the rail industry and Samaritans. We are very pleased to see the reduction in suicides and suspected suicides and the increase in life saving interventions for the second year in succession.
“One of our contributions is through the work of our suicide prevention and mental health teams, which have NHS Psychiatric nurses working alongside police officers and staff. These teams work with statutory and third sector partners to help those people that come to the railway in mental health crisis or suicidal circumstances, access effective care pathways and get on the road to recovery. In the last year, these joint health and policing teams and our Community Safety Unit in Scotland, dealt with nearly 2,000 cases which includes 86 people who survived a suicide attempt on the railway with serious injuries.”
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.”
Additional ways that the rail industry is preventing rail suicides include:
- Fencing has been installed across the network at locations where the risk of suicide is known to be high
- Improved platform markings, which exist for passenger safety, but for some at risk of suicide they also act as a psychological barrier
- Engaging and working with local authorities to help prevent rail suicides
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and those from deprived communities are particularly vulnerable.
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 36,000 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;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.