"My intention was positive and I acted on it"- Intervening to Prevent Suicide at Railway Locations: Findings from a qualitative study with frontline staff and rail commuters

Mackenzie, J.-M. 2022. "My intention was positive and I acted on it"- Intervening to Prevent Suicide at Railway Locations: Findings from a qualitative study with frontline staff and rail commuters. BJPsych Open. 8 (e62). https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2022.27

Title"My intention was positive and I acted on it"- Intervening to Prevent Suicide at Railway Locations: Findings from a qualitative study with frontline staff and rail commuters
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMackenzie, J.-M.
Abstract

Background

For every suicide on the British railway network, at least six potential attempts are interrupted by front-line staff or rail commuters. However, the factors that maximise or hinder the likelihood and effectiveness of such interventions are poorly understood.

Aims

The aim of the current study was to shed light on the experience of intervening to prevent a suicide at a railway location, including how and why people intervene, and their feelings and reflections in the aftermath.

Method

In-depth interviews were carried out with rail commuters (n = 11) and front-line railway staff (n = 10) who had intervened to stop a suicide by train. Data were analysed thematically.

Results

Participants had intervened to prevent suicide in several ways, both from afar (e.g. by calling a member of staff) and more directly (verbally or non-verbally), in some cases with no prior training or experience in suicide prevention, and often as a ‘quick, gut reaction’ given the limited time to intervene. In more ‘reasoned’ interventions, poor confidence and concerns around safety were the greatest barriers to action. Although often privy to their final outcome, most participants reflected positively on their intervention/s, stressing the importance of training and teamwork, as well as small talk and non-judgemental listening.

Conclusions

Suicides in railway environments can present bystanders with little time to intervene. Potential interveners should therefore be resourced as best as possible through clear infrastructure help/emergency points, visibility of station staff and training for gatekeepers.

JournalBJPsych Open
Journal citation8 (e62)
ISSN2056-4724
Year2022
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2022.27
Publication dates
Published09 Mar 2022

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