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Railway Suicides Rising


Railway suicide death toll rising

The number of deaths by suicide on the railways rose last year.

But Samaritans and Network Rail (NR) have also said that their partnership has saved lives.

The two organisations have announced that their partnership, which includes rail staff going on Samaritans-run courses, is being renewed for another five years.

There were 278 suicides on the railways last year compared with 268 in 2012. The number in 2011 was 224 and in 2010, when the partnership began, it was 232.

Samaritans said that since the partnership started, rail staff have approached a nd potentially saved the lives of more than 200 vulnerable people at railway locations.

It added that British Transport Police also reported more than 700 approaches to passengers.

Samaritans said: "I t is important to remember that looking at the number of deaths alone does not give a full picture of whether suicides are increasing or decreasing. For this, rates based on the population must be considered.

"The rail network is also increasingly busy. A million more passenger trains a year run across Britain than 10 years ago. Every day 22,000 train services operate across the network."

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said: " Given the challenging economic circumstances over the last five years, the creation of the partnership was very timely.

"It seems clear from the very large number of interventions by rail staff that rail deaths would have been considerably higher had the partnership not been in place. "

Ian Stevens, NR's suicide prevention programme manager, said: "Any death on the railway is a tragedy but the impact is felt not only by those who knew the person but by the train driver and station staff and those who are involved in the aftermath.

"We want to do everything we can to stop this from happening, and if it does, to help our people deal with it. Samaritans have helped us enormously to develop our work in this area."

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "We are pleased that the extraordinary work of rail staff in trying to prevent suicides is recognised today. It is another illustration of just what an important role our station and train crew staff fulfil.

"Every suicide is a personal tragedy with wide-ranging repercussions, specifically for train drivers and other members of staff who witness these deaths first hand.

"Support for staff in both identifying potential suicide risks, and in dealing with the aftermath, is absolutely essential as today's latest figures illustrate only too clearly."

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