Samaritans trying to prevent further suicides following Havering deaths
- Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Lives have been lost, families left in pieces, and commuters and drivers disturbed by numerous train track deaths in recent months.
But one charity, the Samaritans, is trying to prevent such tragedies and help ease the pain when they occur.
You may have recently seen volunteers in their fluorescent green clothing at Romford and other stations handing out advice and consoling individuals who have been affected by deaths.
Samaritans project manager Ola Rzepczynska has been heading up the Joint Suicide Prevention Plan with Network Rail and she spoke to the Recorder to explain their work.
“The Romford branch is very active and has a strong presence in the community,” she says.
“They have talked to members of staff at Romford Station following each incident and had face-to-face conversations over at the local branch.
“We have also done a lot of work in suicide prevention.”
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You may have noticed little blue lights dotted along one platform in Romford in the past month and wondered what they were.
They are not for decoration but in fact are a pilot by the Samaritans to reduce suicides.
Ola says: “Research shows that they have calming effects on people. No one has ever done anything like this before and we are piloting it in Romford to see how effective it is.”
And station staff have been trained to coax those they believe may be about to take their lives away from the tracks.
Ola says that station staff across the country have potentially saved 170 lives in this manner since they began receiving intervention training in 2010.
“We give staff the ability and confidence to approach people who are struggling to cope,” Ola says.
“And we encourage them to utilise their skills to carry out an intervention.”
Other measures can be taken, such as barriers between platforms – unfortunately this cannot be done in Romford.
However, you may have seen posters lining the walls that appeal to people to contact the Samaritans’ phone line for support if they are feeling desperate.
“The posters are targeted at males,” Ola says, “as they are most likely to take their lives on the railway. We also have signs along the station in strategic places for individuals who are contemplating taking their lives.”
Those in need can call the Samaritans helpline or pop into the Havering branch in North Street, Romford, for a face-to-face chat.
Ola says that it is often train drivers and other industry staff that need a lot of support.
“Drivers can talk about the trauma and what they may feel,” she says.
If you have witnessed a station death, been affected by one, or are having thoughts of desperation you should contact the national help line on 08457 90 90 90 for friendly guidance, support and someone to talk to.