Suicide specialist recruited as railway deaths rise

Suicide specialist recruited as railway deaths rise

A suicide specialist has been recruited to help combat the rising number of deaths on the railways.

The Transport Delivery Committee papers note that the number of suicides and suicide attempts on railways lines across the region has ‘continued to rise’ in recent years.

No official figure is given for how many attempts there are on the railways, but figures show that there were 477 suicides in the West Midlands in 2017.

This is nearly double the figure of just ten years prior, when 245 suicides were recorded for 2007.



During a recent interview the West Midlands Combined Authority’s mental health chief, Sean Russell, said the region should be setting itself the target of zero suicides every year, saying that ‘every loss of life is one too many’.

And the combined authority could be about to take one of the first steps to help combat suicides in the region, papers from the meeting note.

“The number of suicides and suicidal attempts on the railway has continued to
rise,” it says.

“This is true of both the West Midlands region and also nationwide.

“West Midlands Trains (WMT) are working closely with the Samaritans and the British Transport Police to try and reduce this tragic trend.

“To assist them in this endeavour, WMT have arranged for Richard Godwin
– one of Network Rail’s suicide prevention and route crime specialists – to join
them on a secondment.

“Richard joined at the end of September and will be attending the December WMRE Board meeting to provide an update on WMT’s suicide prevention activities.”

Mr Godwin has taken part in anti-suicide campaigns in the past, such as 2017’s ‘Rail Pastors’ initiative. This saw trained volunteers from local churches patrolling platforms and trains on the line between Stourbridge and Birmingham Snow Hill looking out for vulnerable and distressed people.

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