Skip to content
Colleagues from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) gather to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. More images below.
Colleagues from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) gather to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. More images below.

Press release -

GTR expands suicide prevention support, offering training to key partners to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

  • This World Suicide Prevention Day, GTR is reminding the public that a simple question can be all it takes to stop suicidal thoughts
  • The company’s online training course shares vital rules to safely approach someone who appears vulnerable
  • By expanding the industry-leading training to key partners, GTR is offering guidance on how to make a safe intervention on the railway
  • The Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern rail operator has an internal trauma support network, made up of trained colleagues who can offer support following an incident
  • GTR’s Suicide Prevention Manager shares the dos and don’ts for safely approaching a vulnerable person

Today on World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – the UK’s biggest rail franchise which operates Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services – is extending its suicide prevention training to key partners to increase the number of frequent travellers able to identify vulnerable people on its network.

Supporting the WSPD message of ‘creating hope through action’, the rail operator is offering industry partners – including the Rail Pastor network, community rail partners and Members of Parliament – the chance to undertake its online training course.

The training has given GTR staff the confidence to approach potentially vulnerable people using the railway, which in turn has seen the company double the number of interventions made from 233 in 2018, to 508 in 2020. So far this year, there have been more than 160 interventions. With key partners now being offered the same training, there will be even more people equipped with skills to help people in need on the railway.

The training includes simple steps on how to intervene and help individuals to safety – because suicide can be preventable. As part of GTR’s commitment to ‘create hope through action’ for this year’s WSPD campaign, it has pledged that all employees will complete the training by the end of 2022.

Working closely with partners including Samaritans, Network Rail and the British Transport Police, GTR continually works to support people across its network and has a dedicated Suicide Prevention Manager, whose job is to prevent incidents on the railway.

Laura Campbell, GTR’s Suicide Prevention Manager, said: “This year has been incredibly tough on people’s mental health, which is why it’s so important to equip people with tools to be able to help those in need. Sometimes all it takes to break someone’s suicidal thoughts is a simple question, such as asking for directions. By educating our partners on simple steps to identify and help someone who may be vulnerable, we can work together to save lives – because one life lost is one too many.

“At GTR, all of our colleagues are trained to spot the signs and know how to step in, but this year we’re offering this free training to other businesses and partners in the rail industry. By opening up the training programme, we hope to ensure that there is always someone on the platform looking out for people in need.”

Minster for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety, Nadine Dorries, welcomes the training. She said: “Preventing suicide is possible with the right support at the right time for those experiencing a suicidal crisis. This training makes a real difference by helping staff identify vulnerable people at train stations so they can intervene when support is needed. I would encourage everyone who can to take part in suicide prevention awareness training and play a role in supporting those around you.

“And I urge anyone who is struggling to cope to reach out – there is support available for you and people who can help,” she added.

Stephen McPartland MP added: “I am proud to be raising awareness of this important issue on World Suicide Prevention Day. With the online training course now available to key partners, it means we can work alongside GTR to look out for vulnerable people on the railway – and beyond – to help save more lives.”

One of the community partners undertaking the training are Rail Pastors, trained volunteers who patrol railway networks looking out for those who may need support. Paul Lewis is a Rail Pastor on GTR’s network. He says, “We go out three times a month at different times in the day and have so far carried out more than 200 patrols. We’re there to be a listening, caring presence and our intention is to make a difference. You don’t know what’s going through people’s minds and just having a chat can break someone’s chain of thought and potentially save their life.”

GTR is also supporting Samaritans’ latest campaign Small Talk Saves Lives, which relaunched in August, in partnership with Network Rail and British Transport Police. The awareness campaign reminds the public they already have all the experience they need to help save a life and aims to empower them to act to prevent suicide both on the railways and in other public settings.

Olivia Cayley, Head of Rail Programme at Samaritans, comments:“We’re so thankful to GTR for their support in spreading this important message and training more of their partners which could make such a difference. It’s so important we look out for one another now more than ever because suicide is preventable.

“Our latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign encourages everyone to trust their instincts if they see someone who needs help and try and start a conversation. Whether that’s on a journey home from work or someone you pass in the street – a little small talk such as ‘what’s the time?’ could be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and set them on the journey to recovery. Let’s start a conversation and work together to prevent suicide.”

Laura Campbell, GTR’s Suicide Prevention Manager, shares the vital Dos and Don’ts to follow when approaching a vulnerable person:

DO

  • Phone 999 immediately if you are very concerned about someone’s behaviour at a station
  • Let a member of staff or fellow passenger know if you are going to approach the individual
  • Approach carefully and slowly, from the side if possible
  • Try to start a conversation - whatever comes naturally, it could be as simple as: "I see you are a bit upset, my name's John, where are you trying to get to today?"
  • Try to move them to a safe place and find somewhere quiet to talk: You could use, "it’s a bit noisy here" or "would you like some tea?"
  • Ask open questions: these are helpful as they encourage people to talk through their problems instead of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’
  • Ask how they feel: Being invited to say how they’re feeling could be a big relief - and you may find out more about what they're really worried about

DON'T

  • Put yourself between the person and the tracks
  • Go on the tracks under any circumstances
  • Give advice
  • If the individual doesn’t want help, try not to put any pressure on them. Stay nearby and do not leave them on their own.

GTR’s extension of network support follows last year’s ‘Affirmation Art’ campaign, which saw clusters of positive affirmations emblazoned across some of its busiest stations to raise awareness of the company’s ongoing focus on reducing suicide on the railway.

To raise awareness about the importance of suicide prevention on the railway, six people share their experiences:

  • Station Manager, Susan Litterick, says simply starting a conversation could save someone's life. Read her story here.
  • Paul Lewis volunteers with a team of Rail Pastors, patrolling railway networks. Read his story here.
  • Laura Campbell is GTR's Suicide Prevention Manager and has a very personal reason for working in this field. Read her story here.
  • Sigi Gordon was shocked to make a lifesaving intervention with someone of a similar age to himself. Read his story here.
  • Alex Weekes-Hanson wants us all to look out for each other following the pandemic. Read his story here.
  • Revenue Control Officer, Amy O'Day, has faced some very difficult situations despite only being on the railway a few years. Read her story here.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, according to a report by mind, ‘more than half of adults (50%) and over two thirds of young people have said their mental health got worse during lockdown…many without previous experience of mental health problems…have seen their mental health and wellbeing decline’ - https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/5929/the-mental-health-emergency_a4_final.pdf
  • Some 1,603 suicides occurred between April and July 2020, around three-quarters of which were male. This is down 18% from the same period in 2019 and 12.7% below the average for the previous five years, according to analysis of provisional data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • · World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was first launched in 2003 on 10 September by IASP (International Association for Suicide Prevention) with the endorsement of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 10th of September each year has been designated as a way of focusing attention on the problems of suicide worldwide https://www.iasp.info/
  • Anyone can contact Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.
  • Small Talk Saves Lives is the charity’s and rail industry’s flagship suicide prevention & awareness campaign to encourage the public to help prevent suicide on the railways and other settings.
  • The new campaign video will be shown on social media, along with posters which will be displayed across Network Rail stations, provides small talk scenarios to give people examples of what they could say, encouraging them to trust their instincts.
  • For more information visit Samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives Due to the proven link between certain types of media reporting of suicide and increases in suicide rates, please be mindful of Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide factsheet.
  • The rail industry and British Transport Police (BTP) have worked in partnership with Samaritans for over 10 years to reduce suicides on the railway and support those affected by them. Our suicide prevention programme includes training railway employees and BTP staff to look out for and offer support to people who may be considering suicide and working within the wider community to de-stigmatise suicide and promote help-seeking behaviour. To date almost 23,000 rail staff and BTP officers have received suicide prevention training.

For any further information please contact Spider PR on: GTR@wearespider.com or 0207 403 6900

About World Suicide Prevention Day

  •  World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was first launched in 2003 on 10 September by IASP (International Association for Suicide Prevention) with the endorsement of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 10th of September each year has been designated as a way of focusing attention on the problems of suicide worldwide https://www.iasp.info/

      About Samaritans

      • Anyone can contact Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.
      • Small Talk Saves Lives is the charity’s and rail industry’s flagship suicide prevention & awareness campaign to encourage the public to help prevent suicide on the railways and other settings.
      • The new campaign video will be shown on social media, along with posters which will be displayed across Network Rail stations, provides small talk scenarios to give people examples of what they could say, encouraging them to trust their instincts.
      • For more information visit Samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives Due to the proven link between certain types of media reporting of suicide and increases in suicide rates, please be mindful of Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide factsheet.
      • The rail industry and British Transport Police (BTP) have worked in partnership with Samaritans for over 10 years to reduce suicides on the railway and support those affected by them. Our suicide prevention programme includes training railway employees and BTP staff to look out for and offer support to people who may be considering suicide and working within the wider community to de-stigmatise suicide and promote help-seeking behaviour. To date almost 23,000 rail staff and BTP officers have received suicide prevention training.


      Subjects

      Tags


      For more information, contact the press office on 0203 750 2031.

      Govia Thameslink Railway

      Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

      • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
      • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
      • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
      • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria (currently suspended during the pandemic)

      www.southernrailway.comwww.thameslinkrailway.comwww.gatwickexpress.comwww.greatnorthernrail.com

      Related content

      Govia Thameslink Railway
      United Kingdom