Network Rail and Samaritans train more than 10,000 rail staff to prevent suicides

29 September 2015 (Last Updated September 29th, 2015 18:30)

Network Rail and charity organisation Samaritans have trained more than 10,000 railway staff for the prevention of suicides on train tracks in the UK.

Neena Naylor

Network Rail and charity organisation Samaritans have trained more than 10,000 railway staff for the prevention of suicides on train tracks in the UK.

The trained staff has helped in preventing more than 1,000 suicide attempts since 2010.

Samaritans has been training the staff of Network Rail, train operating companies and the British Transport Police and has conducted more than 800 courses since the project began in 2010.

Samaritans runs the managing suicidal contacts and trauma support training courses for driver managers and union representatives for them to assist staff after a traumatic incident.

"Samaritans' volunteers regularly hold events and outreach activities at stations to connect with commuters and railway passengers."

Network Rail mobile operations manager Andrew Wellbeloved, who has attended the managing suicidal contacts course and subsequently helped a suicidal man in the North West of England said: "I approached the man, who seemed to be confused and disorientated, but clearly in a state of despair. He told me that he wanted to die.

"I was nervous as I hadn't been involved in a situation like that before, but the memory of my training gave me the confidence to speak to him."

According to Network Rail, the trained staff will have the skills, confidence and knowledge to identify and approach people exhibiting suicidal behaviour.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: "Working with Network Rail, the British Transport Police, train operating companies and the wider industry has been invaluable and has helped raise awareness of Samaritans' work and the need to reduce suicides on the railway.

"Any suicide is a tragedy and Samaritans is there round the clock, every day of the year, to help people who are struggling to cope.

"Samaritans' volunteers regularly hold events and outreach activities at stations to connect with commuters and railway passengers. Samaritans is also there to help the local community when a railway suicide has taken place."

According to Samaritans, the UK records around 6,000 suicides annually, with more than 4% of them happening on the railways. One person a day tries to take their life on the railway.

Of the total deaths on the railway in 2013-14, seven occurred on a level crossing, 18 involved people trespassing on the railway and 280 were suicide or suspected suicides, Network Rail said.

In addition to the trauma caused to the train drivers, staff and passengers, such suicides have a huge financial impact.

Around 400,000min of delays were attributed to suicides between 2013 and 2014, an increase of 35% from the previous year.

In order to avoid these incidents, Network Rail has enhanced safety measures at stations such as mid-platform fencing, platform hatching, trespass guards, platform end barriers and smart cameras.


Image: Network Rail train despatcher Neena Naylor featured in Samaritans film-2. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.