MORE THAN 25,000 RAILWAY STAFF have now been trained to identify and help vulnerable people, inside and outside of the rail network, thanks to Samaritans’ partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry.

This means that more than one in five people in the rail industry, including Network Rail, British Transport Police and train company staff, have taken part in the charity’s ‘Managing Suicidal Contacts’ course. Since the partnership began in 2010, Samaritans has run around 1900 courses across Britain, to give rail employees the confidence and skills to look out for vulnerable people, teaching them how to start a conversation to get them to safety and onto further support.

In the past year, rail staff have helped more than 650 people to safety, potentially saving their life. In addition, the Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, in partnership with Network Rail and British Transport Police, aims to encourage the public to use the skills they already have by simply starting a conversation if they see someone who needs help. In trusting their instincts, a little small talk and simple question can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help start them on the journey to recovery.

A Samaritans survey highlighted the benefits small talk can have, with over half of respondents saying it can make people feel less lonely (57 per cent) and boost their own mental health and wellbeing (45 per cent), as well as showing others that people care and want to help them (28 per cent).

Mobile Security Officer Karl, age 31, from Lingwood Security Management in partnership with Network Rail, was the 25000th delegate to do Samaritans’ suicide prevention training this year. Three weeks later, he helped save a man’s life.

Karl said: “My colleague and I were patrolling one of our train stations and we noticed a man sat down in the platform shelter. He was leant over and had his head in his arms crying. We went over and asked him if he was alright, and he said ‘no I’m upset, I don’t want to be here anymore’ – so I knew we had to stay with him and try and help him. We were talking for about 20 or 30 minutes, but he was shivering. I said he could get warm inside my truck around the corner. He was hesitant at first, but he agreed to come with us. He didn’t stop crying the whole time we were with him. We called for an ambulance and just before he got in, he threw his arms around me and thanked me and my colleague. I was so happy that we saved a life that day and that’s thanks to the Samaritans course.”

Karl added: “Mental health and looking out for people is really important to me. I went through a bad stage myself a few years ago and from my personal experience of being at the lowest of the low and having people, my partner and my mates, there for me to talk to and raise me up again, I’m so much stronger for it. I know I didn’t speak about it until it was almost too late. Since then, I just want to encourage others to talk, especially men.”

Samaritans Head of Rail Programme Olivia Cayley said: “We’re so grateful to the rail industry and inspired by their commitment to look out for others every day and save lives. This milestone is a testament to our invaluable 12-year partnership. We’ve worked hard over the pandemic years to move our training online to continue to reach and train more staff.

“We know the pandemic has had a huge impact on the nation’s mental health and that will be felt for a long time – but suicide is preventable, and the public can help too. We hope it’s comforting to know that rail staff and British Transport Police are out there to help, but we want to urge people to keep their eyes peeled, trust their instincts, and start a conversation. You won’t make the situation worse and saying something is better than nothing at all – a simple question can be enough to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and save a life.”

* More information on Small Talk Saves Lives here.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are there to talk – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call for FREE on 116 123, email [email protected], or visit

* Source: Samaritans