Preventing suicide on the network: steps taken by Go-Ahead’s rail company

World Suicide Prevention Day (10th Sept) is a global event that raises awareness about suicide and promotes strategies to prevent it. One organisation that has made significant strides in this area is Go-Ahead’s UK rail company, Govia Thameslink Railway.

GTR, which operates Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink services is the first rail company to create a specific role dedicated to suicide prevention. This year 589 ‘vulnerability at GTR stations’ incidents were reported, with 144 categorised as ‘high risk’ with a concern for fatality or suicide. Thanks to suicide prevention training, since July 2019, there have been almost 600 lifesaving interventions made by GTR staff.

Laura Campbell was GTR’s Suicide Prevention Manager, and she now covers a broader remit as Safeguarding and Wellbeing Manager. She works in partnership with different organisations, including the British Transport Police and Samaritans, as well as station managers and safety and security teams across GTR stations. Sadly, Laura has personal connections to this topic as her grandmother took her own life on the railway. She says: “Helping people is the thing that gets me up every morning.”

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GTR recognises how important it is for colleagues and passengers to have the tools needed to support vulnerable people. High pressure situations can create tough and challenging days. Paul Boylin who works for Southern Rail helped to save someone’s life thanks to his quick-thinking.

He said: “A couple of months ago, I was on shift and my colleague alerted me to a woman who was clearly in distress in one of the toilets. After the realisation that she was attempting to cause herself serious harm, I made the decision to approach and intervene.

“She was very agitated and wanted to be left alone, so I made sure I spoke to her softly and calmly and asked if she was okay. I noticed that she was wearing a heavy metal T-shirt and started a conversation about music to help break her out of that negative mental state by chatting about a common interest. After 20 minutes of talking, she started to calm down.”

Paul, who works as a platform team leader, said suicide prevention training has taught him to watch out for signs if someone is feeling suicidal and how to safely intervene.

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As we head into winter and we all tackle the new challenges life throws at us, it’s crucial for us to remember the most vulnerable people in society, and to show acts of kindness. If you see someone you believe to be vulnerable, all it takes is a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ to break their chain of thoughts. 

If you are affected by the issues raised in this blog, help is available from The Samaritans, 24 hours a day, by calling 116 123 from a UK phone.