Saving lives on the railways

Many rail employees who have taken our Managing Suicidal Contacts course have gone on to use the skills they’ve learned and their actions have potentially saved many lives.

Hear from some of the rail staff who’ve taken our course and found themselves in a situation where they needed to use their new skills.

Hannah's story

Hannah works for Virgin Trains as a Team Leader. Within two weeks of attending Samaritans' Managing Suicidal Contacts training, she was putting her skills to use when a colleague made her aware of a vulnerable-looking woman.

"My colleague drew my attention to a woman who had got off the train. We were concerned about how upset she looked and when my colleague approached her, she tried to avoid him. He continued to pursue a conversation with her and she revealed that she wanted to end her life.

"My colleague had also attended the Managing Suicidal Contacts training course, so knew that he needed to move her to a place of safety. I started talking to her, while my colleague contacted the British Transport Police. 

"She and I spoke for about an hour, while I listened to her talking about some terrible events that had happened to her. She was crying, telling me she didn’t want to go on living anymore and hadn’t been eating.

"While we waited for the British Transport Police to arrive, I offered her a Samaritans contact card, so she could talk to someone and get support to stop her getting this low again. 

"Before I attended the Managing Suicidal Contacts course, I wouldn’t have known what to say, or how to react to the things she was telling me.  I probably would have tried to avoid the subject because I was frightened of making it worse.  My colleague and I both found the information and training amazingly helpful and it proved really effective in helping me to get the woman to speak to me.

"The skills I gained enabled me to pass her on to people who could help her more, without her thinking we had listened, but didn’t care.  Our conversation made her feel better and calmed her down before the police arrived."

Andrew Wellbeloved and Neena Naylor from Network Rail discuss the Managing Suicidal Contacts course and how they used the skills they learned to help someone in need.

Ken's story

Ken is a Mobile Operations Manager for Network Rail on a route in Wales. Within weeks of attending the Managing Suicidal Contacts course, he contacted Samaritans to let the team know how he had put his training into action.

"I was travelling up to London and I became aware of a lady on the seat in front, who I’d smiled at when I got on, becoming more and more unsettled by phone calls and text messages she was making and receiving. I started to keep an eye on her as she deteriorated and by the time we got to Reading I could see through the gap in the seats that she was beside herself. 

"She was crying by now and as the train left the station I leant forward and just said, “Are you ok, you seem to have the weight of the world on your shoulders?”. She looked at me and said, “No, not at all,” with a “please help” look in her eyes. So I got her to come and sit with me and she proceeded to cry. I held her hand while she tried to speak about things but she was too upset so I comforted her, tried to make small-talk and kept her breathing calmly.

"As we neared our final stop in London she kept on repeating “Please don’t let me go down to the Underground.” I kept telling her that I wouldn’t.

"I told her that we would stay on the train when everyone got off; she wasn’t able to make any decisions for herself by now. When the passengers started leaving, I asked one of them to alert the Conductor. After a while he arrived and we decided the best thing was to call the Police.

"We then went over to the Police room at the station to await the arrival of an ambulance. I stayed with her to comfort her for another hour or so waiting for the ambulance.

"The lady I spoke to was a very nice lady who just had some bad situations all arriving on a bad day – a Perfect Storm I think you called it.

"So thank you for giving me the confidence to act, as it really did make a difference on this occasion. After the intervention, she sent me a message thanking me for everything I had done and added that she probably wouldn't be here if I hadn't bothered to ask if everything was OK.  She finished her email saying “Thank you so much for bothering to care and for everything you did. Your kindness meant ever so much."