As part of Samaritans suicide prevention partnership with Network Rail, Samaritans are again sponsoring the Lifesaver Award at the Railstaff Awards 2014. Now in its third year the Lifesaver Award aims to recognise the pre-emptive actions of station staff, train crew, track workers, BTP officers and many railway staff who by timely intervention prevented a potential fatality.
Says David Masters, Project Officer for Samaritans working on the suicide prevention partnership, ‘Life saving interventions are being made by rail industry staff and BTP officers on a daily basis. This award aims to recognise the actions of these people who in many cases are going above and beyond what’s expected of them to help a person in need. Samaritans, and the Network Rail suicide prevention partnership, work on the basis that talking about your problems can really help, and a sensitively managed intervention by rail staff and BTP officers can make a real difference to someone’s life.’
The Samaritans/Network Rail partnership was formed in 2010 with the aim of reducing railway suicides and improving the support available to those affected by them. The cornerstone of the partnership’s ‘soft’ prevention measures is the Managing Suicidal Contacts training course which has been delivered to over 5600 rail industry employees and BTP officers across England, Scotland and Wales. The course aims to give attendees the skills and confidence to identify and approach a potentially suicidal person at a station.
Paul Curtis of the Rail Media Group re- iterated the importance of the Network Rail – Samaritans partnership. ‘Suicide on the railways remains a big challenge for us all. It is not just the families and friends, but also railway workers, train drivers, railway staff and police officers who have to deal with the harrowing immediate aftermath of the death. I know from my own experience this is a source of continuing distress for those left behind.’ Paul lost his sister-in-law’s brother in a railway suicide and has since been a vigorous supporter of measures to reduce suicide. The aim of the award is to draw attention to the many instances of railway staff intervention which have served to save life, ‘If you know of a colleague who has prevented someone from taking their life on the railway in the last year please consider nominating them for Samaritans Lifesaver Award.’
Adds RailStaff editor Andy Milne, ‘The whole question of suicide is a delicate one. However by publicising the work of the Network Rail/Samaritans Partnership we can draw more staff into it – to take part in free courses and briefings. People nominated serve as both an example and inspiration to the rest of us. It’s valuable work and, put bluntly, it saves lives.’