Preventing suicides on the railways

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News release: 12 December 2017

More work is to be carried out to prevent people taking their own lives on the railways, a meeting of groups from the St Albans District has heard.

Railway suicides meeting
The number of suicides on the Thameslink rail line, which runs through the District, has fallen substantially this year.

Now mental health charities and St Albans City and District Council have pledged to support rail industry organisations with their continuing efforts to tackle the problem.

Representatives from Network Rail, British Transport Police, Govia Thameslink Railway, the Samaritans and MIND were among those who attended the meeting.

They discussed the work already being done to prevent railway suicides including interventions to help distressed people spotted at rail stations or near tracks.

Other measures have included training railway staff to spot the warning signs, reviewing safety policies and partnership working.

So far this year, there has been only one suspected suicide on the north Thameslink line which runs through the District compared to 13 for the same period in 2016.

Nationally, the figure has also decreased with 252 suicides in 2015/16 on railways across the UK – 35 fewer deaths than the year before. 

The Rail Industry Suicide Prevention Programme, a national campaign, has been credited with contributing to that 12% reduction

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the Council’s mental health champion, organised and chaired the meeting to focus on work that can be done in the St Albans District.

Billed as Suicide Prevention – Saving Lives on the Railways, the meeting was held at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans.

Afterwards, Councillor Rowlands said: “Every suicide on the railway system is a tragedy which impacts on the lives of many people.

“It was reassuring to hear from senior figures working in the rail industry that effective and proactive partnership working has resulted in a heartening reduction in the number of suicides, and especially on lines serving Hertfordshire.

“We also heard about the contribution of The Samaritans who have played a major role in supporting the efforts of the rail industry. Our thanks go to all their volunteers for their selfless and dedicated work.”

Larry Heyman, Thameslink and Great Northern’s Local Development Manager, said: “Around 5% of all suicides take place on the railway.  
“Appropriate intervention often prevents a human tragedy and can result in distressed people being referred to professionals who can open the door to the healthcare and support they so desperately need. Suicide is not a rail issue; it’s a societal issue.”

Picture:  Inspector Mike Boyce of the British Transport Police addresses the meeting.

Councillor contact:
Anthony Rowlands, Mental Health Champion of St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 07761-232064 Email: anthonyrowlands@hotmail.com

Contact for the media:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 296130