“Your train is delayed because someone couldn’t be bothered to live anymore”

A rail firm was forced to apologise after passengers on a delayed train were told someone ‘couldn’t be bothered to live anymore’.

Yes someone really did say that!

I still cannot believe I read this comment in regards to someone taking their life on a railway last week.

The completely insensitive announcement on the Plymouth-bound journey left many in shock. It came after a man was killed by a train between Slough and Reading earlier in the day.

According to a passenger on the train “The announcement was said in a very callous and tasteless way, especially as you don’t know what personal experiences other passengers have gone through.” The story hit many headlines, including The Independent, BBC News and The Metro. You can read the full story here 

Wow…just wow! My heart sunk at a rapid speed when I read the story. This is insensitivity at its worst for an abundance of reasons. Our overpowering instinct as human beings is to stay alive (and want to)…our daily actions continually represent us retaining our lives…from looking when we cross the road, to driving safely and choosing not to jump off high walls (sorry, terrible example). To think of any individual in so much distress that they feel suicidal really hurts my heart.

Language DOES matter!

“How we speak impacts how we think which impacts how we act”

The language that was used on this train by the staff is completely detrimental to the misunderstanding and representation of suicide. Don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusion that the world won’t change just from using different language but it is a big contributing factor.

Why I talk about trains more than I have even travelled on them…and no, I’m not a trainspotter!

I  think my friends are starting to think I have a fascination with trains and railways which may be slightly peculiar…but I really do. 4% of UK suicides happen on railway lines and I really want to reduce this!! In the grand scheme of things this percentage may not seem a vast amount, however, this is 4% of people in distress that CAN be reached and may feel better again with the right support!

When people take their own lives in isolated places (in the home, for example) we have no way of reaching them, unless they reach out to someone. I truly think if there was a supportive presence at railway lines seeking to help anyone in emotional difficulty, this could make such a big difference to so many lives – from the individual, their family/friends, commuters, train driver, staff…those that can be affected is vast.

Railway suicide facts (2013/14 figures)

– 4% of UK suicides happen at railways
– There were 281 railway suicides in 2013 and 786 interventions
– 85% of rail suicides are male (aged 30-59)

The Samaritans and Network Rail have been working in partnership since 2010 to reduce the number of railway suicides. The Samaritans now conduct a training course titled “Managing Suicidal Contacts” for all Network Rail employees, as part of their induction. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend this training and oh my goodness it was fantastic…I think everyone everywhere should go on it 🙂

I will talk about the training and being “emotionally-sick” in my next blog!

x Rebecca x

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