Summer 2021 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Small Talk Saves Lives

Rachel Luby, Senior Mental Health with Network Rail has been involved in a series of engagements as part of the Samaritans Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. The Samaritans launched the campaign in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry.

The campaign aims to encourage people to start chatting to individuals they suspect might be low, depressed, suicidal or contemplating serious harm to themselves Simply making a comment or a light-hearted intervention can distract, disrupt negative thinking and bring people back from negative thoughts.

Rachel joined with Samaritans volunteers, the City of London mental health triage nurse, Network Rail Anglia mental health nurse and Network Rail’s security champion from Liverpool Street station to talk to travellers about their mental health.

She said,

“People were surprisingly willing to open up and take a few moments to talk about their mental health.  Areas of discussion included feelings of loneliness as a result of COVID and not being able to see family or friends; joblessness/redundancy and anxiety around getting a job; deterioration of physical and mental health during lockdown; concerns for family/ friends and their management of mental health, access to mental health support for BAME communities and that talking about mental health being viewed as taboo.”

The Samaritans train thousands of rail staff in suicide prevention every year. Many of them go on to make an intervention and save a life. They encourage staff to notice if someone may be at risk and then start a conversation by asking a simple question. Below are some of their suggestions:

Noticing Signs That Someone May Need Help

  • The person is standing alone or in an isolated spot
  • They look distant, withdrawn or upset
  • If they are at a train station, they might stay on the platform for a long time without boarding any trains that stop
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t quite right, try and start a conversation.

How to get Started
It can be hard to know how to approach someone who needs help. A simple question or observation can be all it takes to interrupt someone's suicidal thoughts and start them on the journey to recovery. Here are some tips on how to get the conversation started:
Ask if they are okay, or if they need help

  • Make a comment on the weather
  • Ask for the time
  • Ask them if they are OK
  • Ask if they know where you can get a coffee
  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask their name

Many customers thanked the team for holding the event and showing that people care.

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