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Merseyrail joins Samaritans to remind public that small talk can be lifesaving

Merseyrail has joined Samaritans to remind people travelling on its network that we all have the potential to be lifesavers by simply striking up a conversation, as part of Samaritans’ latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.

The new campaign comes after new research from Samaritans revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they don’t know if they were concerned about them in public. The survey also suggested that we’re more comfortable behind a screen as a nation, as people would much prefer chatting to someone they don’t know on the phone (33%) or by email (18%), compared to face-to-face (9%). 

Of those who said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching someone they don’t know, the top reasons holding them back were ‘worrying the person wouldn’t welcome their approach’ (44%) and ‘worrying they’d make things worse’ (29%), whilst a quarter said ‘not knowing what to say’ was also a concern.   

So, Samaritans is relaunching its Small Talk Saves Lives campaign today, in partnership with Merseyrail, Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry. A new film across digital and social media reassures the public that a little small talk like ‘where can I get a coffee?’ can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help set them on a path to recovery.

Samaritans’ volunteers across the country will also be heading to their local stations to host outreach events. Samaritans’ volunteers will be joined by Merseyrail staff at Ormskirk station on Thursday 23 February (08:00-10:00), speaking to passengers about the campaign, highlighting the power of talking and providing myth busting leaflets to help ease any concerns they may have. 

Julie Bentley, Samaritans CEO said:

“It’s normal to feel anxious about starting a conversation with someone you don’t know in person, but at Samaritans we know first-hand how life-changing that conversation could be. Suicidal thoughts are often temporary and there’s no evidence to suggest that you will make the situation worse – it’s about trusting your instincts, starting a conversation, and showing you care. We know it’s been a really challenging time for people’s mental health over the last few years, so we hope the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign builds that confidence and remind the public of the difference they can make. Let’s continue to look out for one another – it could save a life.”

James Smith, acting HR director for Merseyrail, said:

“We’re really proud to be working in partnership with Samaritans again on this important campaign to help raise awareness of the power of small talk. It’s so important we continue look out for one another, as we all have the simple skills which could save a life.”

Launched in 2017, Small Talk Saves Lives was developed after research showed the positive part the public could play in suicide prevention. The campaign is backed by suicide prevention expert Dr Lisa Marzano from Middlesex University. 

She said:

“In our latest research we spoke to those who had made and received interventions themselves and they really echoed the main Small Talk Saves Lives message. We heard how powerful it can be to use small talk or to ask simple questions, in a calm manner. We also found reassuring results around teamwork and the fact that you don’t have to manage this alone – you could speak to a member of staff or call 999 in an emergency too.”

For more information and tips, visit Samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives or join the conversation on social media using #SmallTalkSavesLives

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