Samaritans lend their ears at Romford station to help lower railway suicides

International sports fans aren’t the only new faces on the railways – counselling charity Samaritans is alighting at Romford station as part of a national drive to lower suicide rates.

There are about 200 suicides and suspected suicides on the railways each year, but Samaritans is working with National Rail to cut that figure by 20 per cent.

Samaritans will be placing volunteers in bright green tabards on the platforms and in the concourse during morning and evening rush hours. There will be two volunteers on duty at a time, with 11 taking part in rotation.

“We will be on site firstly to offer emotional support to those experiencing distress in their lives and secondly to raise awareness of our service,” said the Havering branch director, who wished to be known only as Lianne. “We will be distributing our contact details for people to find a way through their problems. We aim to offer support to Network Rail staff and those passing through the station.

“We are not only a suicide crisis line but a way to help people find a way through problems. They can contact us by phone, email, text or can stop by to speak to us in person.”

The British Transport Police said there had been six deaths at Havering train stations since January 2011, but would not identify how many were suicides.

The charity’s work at Romford station is part of a five-year project to bring down railway suicide rates by 2015, as part of which rail staff will be trained in how to spot people in distress, intervene and get them to a place of safety. Network Rail is investing �5million in the programme.

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As well as devastating the lives of family, friends, rail staff and witnesses, suicides cost the rail industry about �50million annually.

If you want to talk to Samaritans confidentially, call their national office on 08457 90 90 90 or the Havering branch on 01708 740 000. You can also visit them at 107, North Street, Romford, but please ring ahead.

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