Trauma support and suicide prevention

Since 2010 ASLEF has played a leading role in the development of a Network Rail and Samaritans suicide prevention programme which aims to reduce the number of railway suicides and to improve the support available to those affected by them

If you are struggling or need someone to talk to, call the Samaritans on 116 123, email or visit the Samaritans website

There are over 210 suicides a year on the railways: That’s 4% of all suicides in Britain. With an average of 1 person a day trying to take their life on the railway, we are painfully aware of the serious consequences for drivers, station staff, passengers, and members of the public who witness these incidents - in addition to the traumatic impact on family and friends of the individual.

We want to prevent suicides and support drivers who have been involved in rail fatalities on the railway and who may subsequently suffer from trauma: Some feel extremely guilty, as though they could have done more to prevent the tragedy. These feelings are misplaced, and support can help them to understand and manage the trauma better.

Since the programme began in 2010 over 1,000 people - mainly ASLEF Union Reps - have completed the Trauma Support Training course which is tailored specifically to deal with the needs of train drivers or others in the aftermath of a death. ASLEF reps were instrumental in making sure the course is specifically tailored to train drivers and the ASLEF Education team worked with the pilot group to get the course accredited.

The Samaritans have trained a further 6,000 Network Rail workers, staff from train companies and British Transport Police officers, building their skills to approach people in distress and lead them to safety.

In addition to this Network Rail and train operators have identified 27 hot spots for people taking their own lives: They have found that in these locations there are effective steps which can be taken to deter people from committing suicide. These steps include installing fences at platform ends, installing lighting along dark sections of platforms and painting yellow hatching at the end of platforms, installing smart cameras at level crossings, advertising the Samaritans’ helpline in stations.

ASLEF is delighted that the initial Suicide and Trauma Prevention initiative has broadened into a wider campaign involving other partners who want to contribute what they can to address this problem, prevent suicides, support those affected, and improve awareness of the potentially fatal risks of level crossings and accidents in stations.

To find out more about the campaign, visit the Samaritans’ website.