Have you ever been in the situation where you have seen someone at a station in distress and not known what to do about it? Sometimes taking time to talk is all it takes.
Interrupting their thought process with a calm question or observation could save a life.
The Samaritans are empowering passengers to start life-saving conversations through their Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. The campaign encourages people to trust their instincts, and gives lots of useful examples of ways to distract someone you’re worried about.
It only takes a moment to divert someone’s attention away from a spiralling thought process. A simple question such as, “do you know where I can buy a coffee?” or “do you know what time it is?”, or even an observation such as “miserable weather we are having today” could be all it takes to save a person’s life.
The Samaritans give guidance of what to look out for if someone is struggling:
- They look distant, withdrawn or upset
- They appear restless, agitated or tearful
- They’re sitting or standing alone or in an isolated spot.
People may share several of these characteristics, or they may not show any signs, that is why it is important to trust your instincts. If you feel like something isn’t quite right and a fellow passenger may be in mental distress, the Samaritans are encouraging us to start a conversation.
The Samaritans have also installed benches where passengers can stop and have a conversation at stations in the borough served by the Elizabeth Line. Councillors Peter Mason and Josh Blacker recently visited the bench installed at Ealing Broadway to find out more.
Middlesex University has found that fellow passengers can have a key role to play in suicide prevention. Their research confirmed that for many people who experience suicidal thoughts, verbal interventions (including small talk) can provide reassurance, and distract them just long enough to put them on the path to recovery.
Councillor Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council said: “It has been a tough few years for people’s mental health, and the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign reminds us all of the difference we can make, and the responsibility we all have to look after one another.”
Cabinet member for healthy lives, Councillor Josh Blacker added: “We know that community connection has a huge impact on health and wellbeing, and as such it’s a key priority for the council. That sense of connection is what the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign is about, and we want to encourage Ealing residents, and everyone who visits or travels through our borough to feel able to start a life-saving conversation. Small Talk Saves Lives is about trusting your emotional instincts, and showing you care by distracting someone you’re worried about, and I am pleased that as a council we are able to support the campaign.”
For more information and tips on starting a life-saving conversation, visit The Samaritans website or view Dom’s Story.
In an emergency can speak to a trained member of station staff or call 999.
You can join the conversation on social media hashtag – #SmallTalkSavesLives