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London Underground suicides reduced by 44 per cent, ‘thanks to staff’

The number of people taking their lives on the London Underground has dropped by 44 per cent in the past five years, and a member of the London Assembly has paid a warm tribute to Underground staff.

New data has been published following a written question to the Mayor of London from Labour’s transport representative on the Assembly, Krupesh Hirani. He said there had been ‘life-saving’ suicide prevention training and that the heroic efforts of staff deserved ‘our enduring praise’.

London Underground’s internationally recognised Suicide Prevention Programme training encourages station staff to intervene if they believe someone is contemplating ending their life, and act accordingly. Interventions from Transport for London staff doubled between 2017 and 2021, reaching a total of 2,225.

The number of staff interventions to passengers displaying suicidal behaviour or extreme distress rose from 230 in 2017 to 463 in 2021, peaking in 2019 at 563. So far this year, to 12 May, there have been 188 interventions.

In September 2019 the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched the #ZeroSuicideLDN campaign, which has since provided more than 270,000 free online suicide prevention courses through Thrive LDN, which is a City Hall organisation.

Krupesh Hirani said: ‘Every life lost to suicide in our capital is a devastating tragedy. Our TfL workers are unsung heroes for the live-saving interventions they make and deserve our enduring praise for handling some of the most distressing situations with the utmost compassion and professionalism. The training by London Underground is working, but if we are to tackle suicide rates at their root, access to mental health services simply must improve and this has to be backed by significant government investment.’

National Rail is continuing to work with the Samaritans charity to teach staff how to take a hand if someone on a station is behaving in a worrying way, such as hanging around at the far end of a platform and never boarding a train. Fences have been installed at many intermediate stations on four-track main lines, making it less easy to reach platforms on the fast lines at which trains rarely stop.

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