Thorough planning was crucial to this thought-provoking campaign to reduce suicides on railway lines. It encouraged passengers to trust their instincts and talk to someone who might be in distress. The campaign film told how this type of intervention saved Sarah; she is shown talking to passengers via a station’s PA system.
A pre-launch review of the impact of Samaritans’ existing training programme for railway staff revealed that for every life lost on the railway to suicide, six people are saved by others. A survey of 5,000 passengers found most felt they would act if they noticed someone in distress, but it also helped identify barriers to helping and how to overcome them. This data and insight, among other findings, informed the hugely effective campaign.
In two months, it generated 315 pieces of media coverage (versus an objective of 100), and 16.2 million people were reached via the social channels of Samaritans, Network Rail and British Transport Police (more than twice the target number).
Forty per cent of train passengers said they remembered seeing the campaign launch, and 41 per cent of those identified contemplating suicide as a potential reason for an individual to be displaying emotional distress, an increase of 12 percentage points.
"Great strategy… well-thought-through planning"
In the UK, someone takes their own life on the railway every 36 hours. We set out to ask rail travellers to help spot, report or intervene to help reduce suicide. The result? Small Talk Saves Lives, an authentic campaign that tells a real story. Every aspect was shaped by experts, people with experience of suicidal thoughts or those bereaved by suicide. Our post-campaign research shows that 1 in 2 people would now act in these difficult situations. Importantly, we've started to hear from those who have intervened on platforms…and potentially saved lives.