Urgent work to prevent the increase of suicides on the tube

MQT on 2013-07-17
Session date: 
July 17, 2013
Question By: 
Murad Qureshi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The statistics you provided me in your answer to question 1638/2013 shows that the number of suicides in London has increased in the last ten years. What measures do you have in place to reduce the number of suicides in London?


Answer for Urgent work to prevent the increase of suicides on the tube

Answer for Urgent work to prevent the increase of suicides on the tube

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Clearly any suicide, on the Tube network or elsewhere, is one too many. The statistics show that, particularly over the past six years, the level of incidents has remained both low and relatively stable. TfL has taken and is planning a range of different measures to reduce the number of suicides and attempted suicides on the Tube.

As explained in my earlier answer, TfL works closely with other agencies, including Network Rail, other train operating companies, the British Transport Police and the Samaritans, to help prevent and mitigate such incidents, including as part of the National Suicide Prevention Working Group. This group meets every four weeks and shares ideas and best practice.

In conjunction with the Samaritans, TfL is developing a specific training package for staff to recognise the indications of somebody who may be about to attempt suicide and give staff confidence to intervene and move the person to a place of safety. It is also working to raise awareness of the Samaritans' help line services (e.g. through posters) and is undertaking site audits to identify potential mitigations.

TfL's introductory and ongoing training for relevant staff also covers the issue of monitoring types of behaviour which could lead to such an incident. Someone standing close to the edge of a platform, in front of the yellow line, or who has been standing in the same place after the passage of a few trains might raise suspicions. Staff are encouraged to take action in such circumstances where it is safe and practical to do so and / or to report such suspicions if (for example in the case of a train operator) they cannot deal with it themselves.

The British Transport Police currently detain about 400 people a year under the Mental Health Act where there are grounds to suspect that they represent a threat to themselves or others. In about 50% of attempted suicides the individuals have known mental health problems.