Commuters are being urged to help prevent suicides on the rail network by striking up conversations with vulnerable people.
A new campaign has been launched to promote the message that suicidal thoughts can be temporary and interrupted by a simple question.
The Small Talk Saves Lives initiative commissioned a survey of 5,000 passengers which found that the majority are willing to play a role in stopping suicides.
More than four out of five (83%) passengers say they would approach someone who may be suicidal if they knew the signs to look for, what to say and that they would not make the situation worse.
Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) think someone in need of support would find it hard to ask for help.
The campaign encourages passengers to spot warning signs, such as people who are:
– Standing alone and isolated
– Looking distant or withdrawn
– Staying on a platform a long time without boarding a train
– Displaying something out of the ordinary in their behaviour or appearance
Small Talk Saves Lives stressed there is no single sign or combination of behaviours that mean a person is suicidal, but if passengers spot something that “doesn’t feel right” they should take action by starting a conversation or alerting a member of rail staff or the police.
The project is supported by the Samaritans, British Transport Police, Network Rail and train operators.
Some 273 people died in suicide incidents on Britain’s railways in 2016/17, according to Office of Rail and Road figures.
Ian Stevens, who manages Network Rail’s suicide prevention programme, said: “If it were your loved one, a daughter or son, husband or wife who was going through an emotional crisis, wouldn’t you hope that somebody took the time to stop and ask if they were OK?”
Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said suicide is “everybody’s business” and claimed “any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life”.
She added that the skills to save lives on the railways can be applied to many other situations and she hopes the campaign starts “a much wider conversation about how suicide is preventable”.