Wigan at centre of railway suicides campaign

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Wigan will be the focal point of a major new campaign to cut the number of suicides on the railway.

The crusade will see posters put up at local stations in a bid to encourage people to seek help instead of taking their own lives.

It might be the pressures of family, relationships, work, health, finances - or anything else. Life can be tough, and it’s a strength not a weakness to reach out for support

Ruth Sutherland

It has particular resonance locally because four people have been fatally injured in collisions with trains in the last few months.

The Samaritans have been working with Network Rail to launch its We Listen campaign after research suggested three quarters of people do not feel able to open up about their true emotions.

The posters, which will put up at railway stations, will contain hidden messages where people claiming to be fine reveal they are not okay at all. One says: “I’m all right with being single I guess. It’s not ideal for the kids, but they seem to be coping”, but the real message is “I’m not coping”.

Another states: “I’m going to be all right. It’s not so bad spending a lot of time alone”, where in reality the message is “I’m so alone”.

It comes as research commissioned by the Samaritans show that while two-thirds (64 per cent) of people in the UK believe they are good listeners, less than a quarter (23 per cent) feel they can talk when something is on their mind.

The Samaritans hope their campaign will encourage those having suicidal thoughts to phone the charity’s helpline.

In December, two people were killed by trains in the borough in the same week.

A 35-year-old man died after being struck by a train in the Lurdin Lane area of Standish on December 13. Another person was killed days later, on December 18, after being by a train in the Kenyon Lane area of Lowton.

Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “Life’s pressures can build, without you even realising. It’s all too easy to turn away, ignore how you’re feeling, and put on a brave face.

“But you don’t have to do that with Samaritans. Samaritans volunteers make time for you and really listen to you, because simply being listened to can help you put into words what’s really going on in your life and help you find a way through.

“It might be the pressures of family, relationships, work, health, finances - or anything else. Life can be tough, and it’s a strength not a weakness to reach out for support.”

Many suicides occur each year on Britain’s railway network, and Network Rail has been working with The Samaritans to raise awareness of the charity’s emotional support for the past six years.

More than 11,500 rail staff have been trained in identifying people at risk, and they may have prevented more than 450 people from harming themselves on the rail network in the past year.

Ian Stevens, Network Rail’s programme manager, said: “Millions of people travel by rail and visit stations every day, so we’re well placed and proud to support Samaritans’ We Listen campaign and help spread the message that you don’t have to go it alone with your troubles when life is tough.”

Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123 or at samaritans.org.