Preventing suicide on the railway

Our job is to protect the millions of people who use the railway in England, Scotland and Wales every year.

More and more, we are responding to people whose mental health is at breaking point. We help them to access support and take the first steps on the road to recovery.

Our Suicide Prevention and Mental Health teams bring together police officers and staff and psychiatric medical professionals. They signpost people to support and put in place suicide prevention plans for those who are vulnerable. They also provide support to families of those who have tried to harm themselves.

In London, we have introduced a foot patrol by a police officer and an NHS psychiatric nurse working together. Under the pilot scheme, they patrol the network aiming to identify people who are in crisis or vulnerable and need support. They also respond to calls to help other frontline officers dealing with people in crisis. This has helped to avoid inappropriate detentions under mental health legislation and ensure the right decisions are made to support the individual and protect them from harm.

Suicide on the railway is reducing. In 2016/17, there were 290 suicides and suspected suicides on the national rail network and London Underground, compared with 305 in 2015/16 and 326 in 2014/15. This represents a decrease of 11% over two years. However, we believe this can be reduced even further and we continue to work with a wide range of partners to ensure more lives are saved.

Read more about how we implemented a programme of work to prevent suicide on the railway (The Independent, September 2015)

Suicide can be prevented

Suicide is preventable and lives are being saved every day. For every life lost on the railway, six are saved.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, our police officers and colleagues in local police forces, together with rail staff and members of the public, made 1,837 life-saving interventions, physically preventing people from taking or attempting to take their life on the rail network.

Many of our police officers and rail staff are trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention. So far, 16,000 have received the specialist training.

Read how one of our police officers PC Steve Crisp used what he learned to help someone in crisis.

By working hard to identify people in crisis and prevent suicide and attempted suicide on the railway, we are not only carrying out our most important function – to protect life – but also helping to keep the network running for everyone. Every suicide on the railway costs the UK economy an estimated £1.7m. We estimate that a cost to the nation of £3bn was avoided in 2016/17 thanks to the lifesaving interventions made.

Where to go when you need support

Life isn’t always easy and sometimes we all need somewhere to turn for help. Find out what help is available.

How you can help people at risk of suicide on the railways and beyond

A little small talk can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts.

We’ve launched Small Talk Saves Lives with Samaritans and the wider rail industry, including Network Rail and train operating companies, to give people the confidence to help prevent suicide on the railways and beyond.

It’s built on a simple ask. If you think someone might need help, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation. You could help save a life.

Find out more, including warning signs to look for, what to say and examples of where small talk has saved a life.

⬅️ Back to safety on and near the railway


Contact Us

To report a crime or incident, call

0800 40 50 40

or text 61016

In an emergency call 999