Our collaborative initiative is helping to minimise the risk of suicide at railway stations, as well as to respectfully deal with people’s families in the aftermath of a fatality’

At TfL Rail, we are working very hard to minimise the risk of suicide at our stations. We do this by engaging with all our staff through formal Samaritans training, less formal – but equally important – local briefings, and our internal ‘live time’ communications.

Our staff have done fantastically well with their participation in 30 potentially life-saving interventions with vulnerable people. All incidents were then dealt with by the emergency services to ensure the people involved got the medical care they needed. We see this as our way of contributing to solutions to the much wider-reaching issue of mental health problems and suicide.

Some of the stories our staff have to tell about these interventions are sad but heart-warming.

One manager had seen a lady being sick on a station platform but not responding to any offers of assistance. So he escorted her onto a train where he managed to get her talking. He found out he shared his name with the woman’s father, so he was able to establish a rapport, and the woman revealed that she was feeling suicidal. The manager looked after her and called the emergency services, who took over the woman’s care and helped her access the support she needed.

Sadly, we do experience railway fatalities and we are working particularly hard on making sure we respond to these incidents in the best and most appropriate way.

We work closely with the police to provide any CCTV and statements from staff who have witnessed the incidents. We also work with the Samaritans to help ensure that if family or friends of the deceased later visit the scene at the station, they are looked after. These situations are always very difficult, but we strive to ensure we have sufficient numbers of trained staff on hand to make the process as respectful as possible.

In the wake of these incidents, we must of course look after our staff who manage these interventions and who are sometimes at the stations when an incident occurs. We have set up a chain of care processes, but we also invoke trauma support. Four times a year, we host the Hero Awards aimed at workers who have been involved in an incident, many of which have helped save lives. This gives the whole company the chance to hear about and applaud the actions of staff on the frontline, which is really important to maintain morale.

We are now looking at how we can contribute to suicide prevention away from the station platforms.