ScotRail Alliance joins up with the Samaritans to combat the blues with brews

Monday, 15 January 2018

On what is claimed to be the most difficult day of the year, the ScotRail Alliance and the Samaritans are asking people to get together on ‘Brew Monday’ for a cuppa and help save a life.

Volunteers from the Samaritans will be handing out teabags and chatting with customers at Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Inverness stations today (Monday) to raise awareness of how a simple conversation can be lifesaving. A question can be enough to interrupt suicidal thoughts, and even start someone on the road to recovery.

It comes as the ScotRail Alliance announced that 300 of its staff have received suicide prevention training. Samaritans, working with the ScotRail Alliance, British Transport Police, and train companies all across Britain, created the ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign last year to give travellers the confidence to act if they notice someone who may be at risk of suicide on or around the rail network.

It draws on lessons learned from successful interventions made by rail staff and British Transport Police officers, including 300 ScotRail Alliance colleagues, who have received Samaritans training. It’s thanks to initiatives like this, that for each life lost on the railway, six are saved.

Anyone who spots someone in distress is asked to keep the following in mind:

  • Remember that suicidal thoughts, while intense, can be temporary
  • Speaking to someone who is suicidal can’t make things worse
  • It’s important to act. If you’re not comfortable getting involved yourself: tell a member of staff or a police officer. If you can’t, dial 999.

David Lister, ScotRail Alliance sustainability & safety assurance director, said:

“Winter days are long and dark, and that can affect people in lots of different ways. We’re asking people to keep an eye out for each other on the railway, and if they see someone who looks vulnerable, ask if they’re okay or speak to a member of staff.

“It only takes a moment, and it really can make the difference between life and death.

“At the ScotRail Alliance we take suicide prevention very seriously, which is why we have trained 300 of our people to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland, James Jopling, said:

“Challenging feelings aren’t seasonal and pressures can pile up over time and become overwhelming. Samaritans’ Brew Monday gives you the chance to sit down with someone and talk to them, or listen to them over a cup of tea or coffee.

“Samaritans volunteers will be at stations across the country today, but you don’t need to be a Samaritan to reach out. Taking that time to listen just might save a life.”


Due to the proven link between certain types of media reporting of suicide and increases in suicide rates, please be mindful of Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide factsheet.

Anyone can contact Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or email [email protected] or go to to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.

The rail industry and British Transport Police (BTP) work in partnership with Samaritans to reduce suicides on the railway. Our suicide prevention programme includes training railway employees and BTP staff to look out for and offer support to people who may be considering suicide and working within the wider community to de-stigmatise suicide and promote help-seeking behaviour. To date almost 16,000 rail staff and BTP officers across the UK have received suicide prevention training.

About Small Talk Saves Lives

The Small Talk Saves Lives campaign aims to give passengers the knowledge and reassurance that they can make a difference. It also encourages them to notice what may be warning signs, such as a person:

  • standing alone and isolated
  • looking distant or withdrawn
  • staying on the platform a long time without boarding a train
  • displaying something out of the ordinary in their behaviour or appearance.

There is no single sign or combination of behaviours that mean a person is suicidal but, if something doesn’t feel right, the public are being encouraged to respond in a way they feel comfortable and safe with.

Read more about Small Talk Saves Lives: ScotRail, Samaritans (external link)