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Campaign launched in order to cut number of suicides

Published 23/02/2016

Picture posed by a model: the campaign's aim is to reduce the number of suicides
Picture posed by a model: the campaign's aim is to reduce the number of suicides

A major campaign to cut suicides is being launched as research suggests three quarters of people do not feel able to open up about their true emotions.

The Samaritans is working with Network Rail on Tuesday to launch its We Listen campaign, which will see posters containing hidden messages where people claiming to be fine reveal they are not okay at all, put up in stations.

One says: "I'm alright with being single I guess. It's not ideal for the kids, but they seem to be coping", but the real message is "I'm not coping".

Another states: "I'm going to be alright. It's not so bad spending a lot of time alone", where in reality the message is "I'm so alone".

It comes as research commissioned by the Samaritans show that while two-thirds (64%) of people in the UK believe they are good listeners, less than a quarter (23%) feel they can talk when something is on their mind.

The Samaritans hope their poster campaign will encourage those having suicidal thoughts to phone the charity's helpline.

The campaign comes as the spotlight has fallen on mental health, and the need for more and better care.

Last week the Duchess of Cambridge dedicated her time as guest editor of the Huffington Post website to commission articles and spark discussion about mental health problems, particularly among children.

In a blog for the website, she called for the stigma around mental health to be broken down and said she "would not hesitate" in seeking support for her children if they needed it.

Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: "Life's pressures can build, without you even realising. It's all too easy to turn away, ignore how you're feeling, and put on a brave face.

"But you don't have to do that with Samaritans. Samaritans volunteers make time for you and really listen to you, because simply being listened to can help you put into words what's really going on in your life and help you find a way through.

"It might be the pressures of family, relationships, work, health, finances - or anything else. Life can be tough, and it's a strength not a weakness to reach out for support."

Many suicides occur each year on Britain's railway network, and Network Rail has been working with Samaritans to raise awareness of the charity's emotional support for the past six years.

More than 11,500 rail staff have been trained in identifying people at risk, and they may have prevented more than 450 people from harming themselves on the rail network in the past year.

Ian Stevens, Network Rail's programme manager, said: "Millions of people travel by rail and visit stations every day, so we're well placed and proud to support Samaritans' We Listen campaign and help spread the message that you don't have to go it alone with your troubles when life is tough."

Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123 or at samaritans.org

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT trade union, which represents rail and transport workers, said: "RMT wholly supports initiatives to try and cut the number of suicides on our railways.

"Every incident is a tragedy which impacts not just on the friends and families of those involved but also on train and tube drivers and the wider rail staff community.

"It is important that the role of trained rail staff in identifying potential incidents is fully recognised and respected. These important initiatives on rail suicides must not be wrecked by the dash to a faceless railways and the drive to de-staff our stations."

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