Life-saving interventions on South East rail network up a third

Network Rail manager Ben West, from Sussex, intervened in a potential suicide in South London
Network Rail manager Ben West, from Sussex, intervened in a potential suicide in South London
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Suicide prevention measures put in place as part of a partnership between Samaritans, Network Rail and British Transport Police are continuing to reduce deaths on the railway.

On Network Rail’s South East route, which operates and maintains lines from South London to Kent and Sussex, potentially life-saving interventions increased by 32 per cent, from 188 in 205/16 to 253 in 2016/17.

Sussex increased from 63 to 125, Kent from 125 to 163, Network Rail said.

Both areas include their respective routes into Central London.

Network Rail manager Ben West, from Sussex, intervened in a potential suicide in South London.

He said: “I was in the right place at the right time and the Samaritans gave the right things to look out for.

“The Samaritans training was very, very important.

“It really gave me structure and context and showed me how people can get into the frame of mind when they are suicidal.

“It also showed me how to approach them, and how to potentially bring them out of that cycle.”

At the same time, suicides and suspected suicides on the rail network as a whole have dropped from 253 to 237 since April 1, 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, British Transport Police 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.

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.”

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland added: “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.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and those from deprived communities are particularly vulnerable.

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