Suicide specialist is recruited as deaths on train tracks rise
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.”