First West of England launches suicide campaign
First West of England has begun partnering the Bristol-based charity Suicide Prevention UK, training drivers to spot the signs of someone planning to take their own life.
‘There is someone…’ is a campaign which aims to provide support and guidance for anyone planning to end their life, ensuring there is someone to to listen, talk and help, says First WoE: “The research we’re hearing from Suicide Prevention UK is so compelling, and highlights the really important role our drivers have in helping to save lives,” said First West of England’s Managing Director, Doug Claringbold.
“Anyone contemplating suicide must be in the most desperate state imaginable and we must do all we can to help them recognise that there is help, and there are people to talk to.
“Some take the bus industry for granted and think it’s just about getting people from A to B, but it is far more than that; it’s about our place in wider society, and I’m so pleased that through this partnership we can play our role in providing help by supporting this hugely worthwhile charity.”
In the past three years, the charity has responded to more than 43,000 calls from people across the UK who are struggling with their mental health or considering suicide.
Data from its volunteer patrols shows that at least three in 50 (about 6%), of those asked, said they had taken public transport to the location where they planned to take their life, but that number could be much higher. Its research also shows that figure has increased over recent years, suggesting more people are using buses and public transport to get to their locations.
Among those supporting the partnership is Bath Platform Inspector, Colin Partridge, who last summer, while working at Bath Bus Station, saved a teenage girl from taking her own life on a nearby bridge.
He said: “This partnership is really important as that bus trip could be that person’s final journey, and if there was information on the vehicles it may get someone to think twice and maybe encourage them to call the helpline and just talk to someone.
“As a bus company we do lots of miles across lots of different built-up and rural areas so knowing how to spot some signs and recognising people’s body language when they get on the vehicle could be really helpful, even if it’s just so we can keep an eye on them or alert others to something not quite right.
“We have quite a few drivers who ring us to say ‘there’s a person on the bus I’m not too sure about, can you come and speak to them’. But for drivers it can be hard; we see lots of people everyday and although our days can be really busy, and it’s usually just a hello or goodbye to passengers, sometimes you have to make the effort to have a conversation with those who you think might need help and support.”