Suicide prevention campaign increases public confidence to act

Starting a conversation can be all it takes to interrupt suicidal thoughts
Starting a conversation can be all it takes to interrupt suicidal thoughts

Just four months on from its launch, the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign developed by Samaritans, British Transport Police, Network Rail and the wider rail industry, has increased the chances the public will act if they see someone who may be at risk of suicide.

The campaign aims to give train travellers the confidence to start a conversation, which in turn could interrupt suicidal thoughts and start a person on a journey to recovery.

Its centrepiece, ‘Sarah’s Story’, is a video shot on a station at commuter time, with an announcer appearing to alert passengers to a suspected suicide.

It’s revealed that the person on the microphone is in fact telling her own story – one of hope and recovery because someone took the time to talk to her.

Research shows one in three adults say they are aware of the campaign. It’s reached more than 17 million people on social media with 5.7 million people watching the video.

Some 49 per cent of respondents felt Small Talk Saves Lives had increased or reinforced their intent to act if they noticed somebody who may be suicidal or dealing with difficult thoughts; of those, there was a 10 per cent increase in people saying they would be extremely likely to intervene if someone was showing signs of distress; 47 per cent said it had increased or reinforced their confidence to recognise someone who needed help and may be at risk if suicide; of those, 12 per cent felt it increased their understanding of who might be contemplating suicide at a train station and 42 per cent said the campaign had increased or reinforced their knowledge of how to intervene in a safe and effective way to help someone who may be suicidal.

Samaritans boss Ruth Sutherland said, “Suicide prevention is everybody’s business and any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life. So, it’s heartening to see this campaign increasing the public’s understanding that suicide is preventable, and empowering many more people to act if they see someone at risk. Together with BTP, Network Rail and the wider rail industry, we’ll continue to promote Small Talk Saves Lives to achieve even greater awareness of how to make a difference.”

The campaign has also been nominated for a total of six awards: three in the UK PR and communications industry’s PRCA Digital Awards, announced in April, and three in the Brand Film Festival, which takes place in May.