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World Suicide Prevention Day

by Mark Rowe

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), on September 10, as organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), seeks to focus public attention on the needs of people at risk of suicide, suicide attempt survivors and people bereaved by suicide.

For the private security industry, the relevance is that security officers – whether in high-rise buildings, multi-storey car parks or other places where people may seek to take their own life – may be the first responder; or may be on the scene, whatever the hour, to talk to someone making a suicide attempt.

Another relevant place is the railways; and the ACS Pacesetters contract guarding firm STM Group (UK) has put together a remarkable five-minute video, on Youtube.

It simply yet powerfully gives time to several tabard and baseball-cap wearing ‘trespass and welfare’ officers, and other on-platform railway staff, closing with a chaplain, to tell their stories to camera; including facing people who have gone to a station so that they can end their life. Stories include gratitude shown afterwards from people who have been talked into not taking their life.

As the first speaker, Yaw Owusu said: “On the fateful day, a lady just walked up to the station and tried to take her life. I was here at the right time and I was able to prevent it. I was so determined not to let go of the woman. I had her there for a good 15 minutes, on the floor, trying to calm her down, before the police came. It got me thinking; we can do better in this society, showing love to our loved ones, showing people that we really care, it can go a long way.”

To view the video visit

The UK police lead for suicide prevention is British Transport Police (BTP) Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle. He said: “Word Suicide Prevention Day is encouraging everyone to take a minute to reach out to someone – whether it’s a complete stranger, a close family member or a friend. They are conversations that can take seconds, but can so easily change a life.”

Callers are generally more anxious and distressed than before the pandemic, Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said recently, responding to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on suicide. While she said that the pandemic has affected everyone in society, Samaritans is particularly worried about three groups: people with pre-existing mental health conditions, young people who self-harm, and less well-off middle-aged men.

Photo by Mark Rowe.

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