Sui­cide spe­cial­ist is re­cruited as deaths on train tracks rise

Solihull News - - IT TALK - TOM DARE Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

A SUI­CIDE preven­tion spe­cial­ist has been re­cruited to try to help com­bat the ris­ing num­ber of deaths on the rail­ways in the West Mid­lands.

The num­ber of sui­cides and sui­cide at­tempts on rail­ways lines across the re­gion has con­tin­ued to rise in re­cent years.

No of­fi­cial fig­ure is given for how many at­tempts there are on the rail­ways, but fig­ures show that there were 477 sui­cides in the West Mid­lands in 2017.

This is nearly dou­ble the fig­ure of just ten years prior, when 245 sui­cides were recorded for 2007.

The West Mid­lands Com­bined Au­thor­ity’s men­tal health chief, Sean Rus­sell, said the re­gion should be set­ting it­self the tar­get of zero sui­cides ev­ery year, adding that ‘ ev­ery loss of life is one too many’.

And the com­bined au­thor­ity could be about to take one of the first steps to help com­bat sui­cides in the re­gion, pa­pers from the meet­ing note.

“The num­ber of sui­cides and sui­ci­dal at­tempts on the rail­way has con­tin­ued to rise,” it says.

“This is true of both the West Mid­lands re­gion and also na­tion­wide.

“West Mid­lands Trains ( WMT) are work­ing closely with the Samar­i­tans and the Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice to try and re­duce this tragic trend.

“To as­sist them in this en­deav­our, WMT have ar­ranged for Richard God­win – one of Net­work Rail’s sui­cide preven­tion and route crime spe­cial­ists – to join them on a sec­ond­ment.

“Richard joined at the end of Septem­ber and will be at­tend­ing the De­cem­ber WMRE Board meet­ing to pro­vide an up­date on WMT’s sui­cide preven­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mr God­win has taken part in anti- sui­cide cam­paigns in the past, such as 2017’ s Rail Pas­tors ini­tia­tive. This saw trained volun- teers from lo­cal churches pa­trolling plat­forms and trains on the line be­tween Stour­bridge and Birm­ing­ham Snow Hill look­ing out for vul­ner­a­ble and dis­tressed peo­ple. Rail pas­sen­gers are be­ing en­cour­aged to look out for those around them, in the lat­est Samar­i­tans cam­paign to re­duce sui­cide on the rail­way.

A sep­a­rate ini­tia­tive called Small Talk Saves Lives, in which pas­sen­gers are urged to act on their in­stincts if the no­tice some­one who may need help, has also been launched.

Peo­ple are be­ing en­cour­aged to make a lit­tle small talk, which could be all it takes to in­ter­rupt some­body’s sui­ci­dal thoughts.

It is a joint part­ner­ship be- tween Net­work Rail, Samar­i­tans, the Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice, train op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies and the wider rail in­dus­try.

Ruth Suther­land, CEO of Samar­i­tans, said: “Sui­cide is pre­ventable and any one of us could have the op­por­tu­nity to save a life.”

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