The Aberdeen head of mental health charity Samaritans says a major campaign to save lives on the region’s railways has already shown success.
Since 2010, the organisation has run hundreds of workshops across the UK to give the likes of ScotRail and British Transport Police staff the confidence and skills to look out for vulnerable people.
It has now hit a milestone of training up 25,000 people – the equivalent of one-in-five rail workers, including almost 1,000 in Scotland.
And in the last year alone, they have helped more than 650 people to safety, potentially saving their lives.
‘Lives saved in our area’
While the charity has been unable to give exact details on how many incidents may have been averted in the north of Scotland, it has confirmed there have been some successes.
Maria Cowie, the branch director for Samaritans Aberdeen, said: “We hope it’s comforting for people to know that there are rail staff and British Transport Police out in our local area who are trained to help vulnerable people.
“We’ve heard from rail staff that the training really builds their confidence to know what to look out for and how simply starting a conversation can help someone with suicidal thoughts.
“It’s brilliant to know there have been lives saved in our area as a result and shows just how important talking and looking out for each other is.”
Samaritans can be contacted day or night, 365 days a year. You can call for free on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org”
‘Trust your instincts’ and help
The charity is also encouraging members of the public to “trust their instincts” and speak to someone who looks like they need help, or ask a member of staff to approach them instead.
It says a little small talk or a simple question can be all that’s needed to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and start them on a journey to recovery.
Louise McNally, suicide prevention and trespass lead at Network Rail, said: “Suicide is not inevitable and thanks to the work of the rail industry and our partners like Samaritans we have made significant strides tackling these tragic events on and around the railways.
“This 25,000 milestone is a fantastic achievement and we look forward to seeing even more lives positively impacted as a result of the wide range of training options available to rail industry staff to identify and support vulnerable people.”