THURSDAY 3 SEP 2020 2:30 PM


Samaritans and Network Rail have announced a new five-year partnership, continuing their commitment to support the rail industry to help reduce suicides.

The 10-year relationship has seen over 20,000 rail staff trained in techniques to intervene when they see someone who is looking distant, withdrawn, upset or distressed. There is no other industry with as many people trained in suicide prevention.

The organisations have worked together to develop a public-facing campaign, which encourages people to trust their instincts and use small talk if they see someone who might be in emotional distress when using the railway. The campaign, 'Small Talk Saves Lives,' has won 27 awards since its launch in November 2017. More importantly, it has given more people the confidence to step in and support people who may be in crisis. Last year 1,711 interventions were made on or near the railway by members of the public, rail staff and British Transport Police Officers.

There have been successes outside of the rail industry too, with research showing that 99% of people that have seen the 'Small Talk Saves Lives' campaign stating they would take positive action towards helping someone that needed it. 58% have approached someone who might be in need of help, with a third of those taking place in the last twelve months. More than half (56%) of those that approached someone in distress said the action was encouraged by 'Small Talk Saves Lives.'

Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines says, “We’re really proud of the work we’ve done with Samaritans and are looking forward to the next five-year programme. It’s a significant period of time that will allow us to collaborate on new ideas, innovation and projects to continue saving lives.”

The partnership will see a new programme of activity to support the rail industry. Suicide prevention training for staff will be a key focus, alongside awareness events that showcase Samaritans services to the travelling public and communities around the railway, targeting those most in need.

Samaritans CEO, Ruth Sutherland says, “Suicide is preventable, so partnerships like this allow us to continue the great work we do as Samaritans. As well as advice and guidance to the industry, the new programme will allow our incredible team of trainers to continue our life-saving training, bringing it to even more of the rail industry, whilst also offering post-incident support to staff and passengers at rail stations, and raising awareness of Samaritans services.”

The Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts training that is funded by Network Rail has equipped over 20,000 rail industry workers with life-saving tools that can be used beyond the rail environment.