The railways experience on average 210 suicides a year.
As well as the families and friends of the deceased the tragedy affects railway staff involved often resulting in trauma and distress.
Railway suicide affects the industry as a whole with front line staff – particularly drivers – traumatised by the experience. Although much work has been put into preventing incidents, the industry is increasing its efforts to ensure that the trauma experienced after a suicide is managed effectively.
Two training courses have been developed by Samaritans, which are funded by Network Rail as part of the suicide reduction partnership.
The new ‘Trauma Support Training’ course addresses what to do after the event and is aimed at Train Driver Managers, Operations Managers and Union Representatives. The course helps equip people to help colleagues who have been directly traumatised by a suicide on the railway.
The rail industry has long realised that managers and colleagues need to be equipped to help these members of staff. Many already do so with commendable respect and sensitivity. The course aims to spread the techniques and skills learned. People affected by railway suicide often experience misplaced feelings of guilt, flashbacks, self-doubt and anxiety. Much can be done to help people suffering this.
Steve Tollerton, Training Officer for Samaritans, runs the course. He said: “It’s not hugely complicated stuff. Just understanding trauma, having the right communications techniques and being confident will help. And it’s those skills the course offers.”
The second course ‘Managing suicidal contacts,’ helps those most likely to come into contact with people in distress who may be considering suicide.
Station staff, Operations Managers and British Transport Police Officers can enrol on the course which is aimed at learning how to approach people that are experiencing feelings of distress, including those which may lead to suicide.
Skills taught include using straightforward communication techniques to start a conversation with the person in distress and then encourage them to return to a place of safety.
To book a place on a course or to learn more, email: [email protected]