Ellen Townsend: Small talk saves lives

It sounds much too simple doesn’t it?  Making small talk could save a life.  But the truth is, it really could.  Today SHRG is supporting the campaign launched by the Samaritans. They are asking us all to be courageous and strike up a conversation with someone if we are worried about them at a railway station. MAKE SMALL TALK AND YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE is a new campaign that encourages public to intervene to help prevent railway suicides.  The Samaritans note that for each life lost on the railways, 6 are saved by life saving interventions.  You can find out more about the campaign here: https://www.samaritans.org/media-centre/our-campaigns/small-talk-saves-lives and here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41992967

You can hear me speak to Andy and Sarah on BBC Radio Nottingham about the campaign here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05lnxxs (The piece starts at 2:08:00 with my bit at 2:10:17)

The myth that work like this will help to dispel is that suicide is not preventable – it is and right up until the last moment.  Johnny Benjamin was brought back from the brink of a suicide attempt by a caring stranger (Neil Laybourn) who he managed to track down through the incredible ‘Find Mike’ campaign so he could thank him for saving his life http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/10604805/I-finally-got-to-thank-the-man-who-saved-my-life.html

Kevin Hines, who survived a serious suicide attempt, maintains that he felt he could have been diverted from his attempt if just one person had asked him ‘Hey kid, are you OK?’ http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/

Dr Christabel Owens from the University of Exeter has produced a great leaflet to help get people talking about suicide if you are worried about someone, which you can access here: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/ref2014/documents/UoA2_leaflet.pdf

So let’s all be courageous.  You won’t make things worse.  Start a conversation and save a life.

This post first appeared on the Self Harm Research Page .

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Ellen Townsend is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, a fellow of the Institute of Mental Health and a visiting fellow of the University of Melbourne. Ellen is the director leading the Self-Harm Research Group.  

You can follow updates about Professor Ellen Townsends work on Twitter:  @SelfHarmNotts 


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