Life-saving stories

More than 16,000 rail staff have been trained in suicide prevention by Samaritans.

They’re now helping someone four times a day on average, and rail suicides are at their lowest level since 2010. But with your help, even more lives can be saved.

Here are four stories from rail staff who have helped set people on the road to recovery.

Examples of lives saved on the railways - Small Talk Saves Lives logo

Life-saving small talk #1: It’s a warm evening, isn’t it?

Damon Lightwood explains how he used this question to help save a woman’s life in Sussex.

As we were driving over a bridge, I saw a woman who looked as if she were going to jump. I stopped the van and got out and walked over to her.

"I said ‘It’s a warm evening, isn’t it?’, but there was no response initially. Then a colleague turned up and we both stood on either side of her. We told her that, whatever she was going though, this wasn’t worth it.

"She was saying, ‘I haven’t got any friends,’ and we said, ‘You’ve got friends here’. Eventually she decided to step back on to the road and we sat down with her until the police arrived."


Life-saving small talk #2: I’m Michael, what’s your name?

Michael Budd explains how he used this question to help save a man’s life in Essex.

I got a call from control saying there was a man on the track. Once I had confirmed everything was safe, I approached him.

"I introduced myself and asked his name; he looked dishevelled and upset. I stayed calm and listened. Just letting him talk was the right thing to do.

"We chatted and I reassured him I was there to help. I guided him to a safe place on the platform and called for support. Before he left he thanked me for my help."


Life-saving small talk #3: Do you need any help?

Andrew Wellbeloved explains how he used this question to help save a man's life in the North West of England.

I approached a man, who seemed to be disorientated and upset. I was nervous as I hadn’t been involved in a situation like that before.

"I managed to talk to him and get him to safety, after which I called the emergency services and they took him to hospital."


Life-saving small talk #4: What train are you going to get?

Ben West explains how he used this question to help save a man’s life in South London.

I spotted a man standing on a platform in an isolated spot, staring into space. I knew instantly that something was wrong. I was in the right place at the right time.

"I started asking him ice-breaking questions to build a bit of rapport, such as ‘What train are you going to get?’ and ‘Where are you heading?’. They were open questions that encouraged an answer.

"After a few questions, I felt confident enough to say to him directly, ‘I know what you’re going to do, you want to jump don’t you?’. He nodded and tears started falling down his face. I said to him, ‘Why don’t we go and have a chat?’, and took him to the station office where, along with colleagues, we were able to get him support."

If you’d like to find out more about our work with the rail industry you can do so here. If you’re interested in volunteering with Samaritans, you can enquire here. Samaritans is a charity and we are always here for anyone struggling to cope. Please donate today and you could help save a life.