Suicide prevention training

Railway stations serve millions of people each day and rail staff encounter all sorts of people from various walks of life, sometimes coming into contact with people in suicidal crisis.

What is suicidal crisis?

Suicidal crisis is when someone is planning or in the act of taking their own life. It is considered   a medical emergency and immediate intervention is required. It is often a temporary state of mind and restricting access to methods of suicide (by installing fences for example), publicising support available (Samaritans posters), or simply asking if someone is OK can be enough to break this state of mind. 

How are rail staff supporting people in suicidal crisis?

As part of our partnership with Network Rail, Samaritans deliver a one-day Managing Suicidal Contacts course to rail staff, training them on how to identify, approach and support a potentially suicidal person.

Delegates are taught how to recognise someone who may be suicidal, how to approach them and start a conversation. They are taught some of the essential listening skills that underpin Samaritans’ servicesand how to safely resolve a situation and refer a person in suicidal crisis to friends,family, the British Transport Police or Samaritans.

The fact that someone had noticed me in the state I was in made me burst into tears. I opened up to him and he sat and listened to everything I had to say.

Is the course working?

Yes it is. Since 2010, Samaritans has trained over 16,000 rail staff in suicide prevention and support and from those who have been trained, more than four hundred potentially life-saving interventions have been reported . This figure is likely to be a lot higher since not all interventions were recorded. See Saving lives on the railway for case studies.

Our Managing suicidal contacts course receives an average evaluation score of 4.8 out of 5 from delegates and the training team has won several awards since the start of the partnership. See Awards won.

London Midland Customer Service Assistant on her experience helping someone who was experiencing suicidal thoughts:

Before I took the course with Samaritans I wouldn’t have approached a person in suicidal crisis for fear of saying the wrong thing. The course has equipped me with the skills, ability and understanding of how to help and what to say in these difficult situations.

How can I attend the Managing Suicidal Contacts course?

If you work within the rail industry in England, Scotland or Wales and would like to attend the course, please email railcompanies@samaritans.org. The course is not appropriate for people working outside of the rail industry, however if you are interested in Samaritans training please see our Workplace training page.

How else are rail staff being encouraged to support vulnerable people?

The rail industry is vast and complex so it will take some time to train all frontline staff in Managing Suicidal Contacts. We have therefore developed communications tools in collaboration with Network Rail, British Transport Police and train operating companies to engage the rail industry on a large scale and to promote a culture of looking out for one another. See leading the rail industry in suicide prevention .