Suicide Prevention Guidance

This page contains information on a collaborative approach to managing suicide risk on the railway.

Guidance for creating a suicide prevention plan

The guidance note - being termed ‘the 9 Point Plan’ outlines the key themes that Suicide Prevention Duty Holders Group (SPDHG) believe each plan should contain to support the industry’s suicide prevention programme.  In brief they comprise:

Provision of adequate resources/support
The identification of priority/at risk locations and the use of mitigation measures
Intervention in suicide attempts
Trauma management and support
The use of materials that support and publicise the programme amongst staff, at risk individuals and customers.
The guidance was created to help stakeholders develop or update their own suicide prevention plans and encourage them to adopt similar approaches to prevent suicides on the network and manage those involved in the aftermath of such events.

The onus is on each duty holder to embrace the nine points in the guidance, adopt them in their own plan and where appropriate work collaboratively with others to achieve common goals.  

Network Rail has a significant part to play in bringing the industry together.  It must not only create plans at route level to address its own requirements but bring together the common goals of all duty holders that operate across it.  They will also monitor delivery of this collective plan just as each duty holder should review progress against their own.

The creation of a suicide prevention plan in line with the guidance will also help individual duty holders meet requirements set out in the industry’s ‘Leading Health and Safety on Britain’s Railway’ strategy published by Rail Safety and Standards Board in March 2016.  In particular it addresses core elements of risk priority 2 – ‘public behaviour’ but also supports others notably:

  • Risk priority 1 – ‘workforce health and wellbeing’
  • Risk priority 3 – ‘station operations’
  • Risk priority 9 – ‘workforce assaults and trauma’
  • Risk priority 11 – ‘freight'

Together with the British Transport Police’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, the nine points have also been adopted by the Department for Transport, as the minimum level of commitment train operators must give to the industry’s suicide prevention programme as part of future franchise agreements. 

Fatality memorials / tributes on the network

The practice of laying memorials at the site of a fatality has become more common in our society in recent years.  To some family members and friends of the bereaved, it is a significant part of the grieving process. To others however, memorials provide a constant unwanted reminder of a tragedy or even a personal loss which can be extremely distressing.

The laying or ‘posting’ of tributes, on or about the rail network can create unnecessary risk, distress to rail staff and passengers and increased likelihood of suicide incidents.  This guidance, produced by the Rail Industry Suicide Stakeholder Group (RISSG) seeks to address these issues.

Measures employed by the rail industry to prevent suicides on the network: The Suicide Prevention Mitigation Measures Compendium

The Rail Industry Suicide Stakeholder Group (RISSG) has produced an updated version of the suicide prevention measures ‘compendium’. First published in 2015 the compendium details the types of mitigation measures and activities that are currently in use across the network for the purpose of preventing suicide and reducing trauma. The updated version aligns the measures with the format of the ‘9 Point Plan’ guidance for creating a suicide prevention plan and aims to provide additional detail to support individuals and organisations seeking to create or develop a suicide prevention plan according to the guidance.

Guidance for using Samaritans communications materials on the rail network: Campaign Material guidance

The Campaign Material Task & Finish Group commissioned by the SPDHG and led by Steven Fisher (London Midland) considered ‘under what circumstances and when the use of the industry’s suicide prevention campaign awareness material should be deployed’.

In particular they considered:

  1. When, where and what material should be used – in response to which they developed a Guidance note a simple to use risk matrix
  2. Whether there is value in Network Rail’s national control logs indicating whether suicide prevention signage is in place at a location where a suicide has occurred – ultimately it was agreed that this reference contributed to suicide prevention work as a prompt to use the new Guidance.
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