TfL Suicide Prevention

MQT on 2016-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2016
Question By: 
Shaun Bailey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What procedures does TfL have in place around suicide prevention?


Answer for TfL Suicide Prevention

Answer for TfL Suicide Prevention

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me start by saying that every suicide is a tragedy, both for those who take their own life and for the loved ones that they leave behind.  Every year in London, nearly three times as many people die by suicide as are killed in collisions on our roads.  Although more than 31 million journeys are made across the TfL network on an average day, suicides across the TfL network are, thankfully, rare.  Clearly, any single event like this is a tragic tragedy and also is traumatic for members of the public who witness them and for the TfL staff and the emergency services who respond.


Can I just explain the policy which is that TfL adopts a low-key approach and does not mention any occurrences on its network when a person attempts to commit suicide?  This is in order to reduce the number of suicide attempts on the network.  TfL no longer announces a person is - and I quote - “under a train”.  Instead, it says - and I quote - a person is “on the track” when making customer announcements about services.  In the past, it has been shown that more media coverage can unfortunately result in increased attempts to commit suicide on the network.


A number of agencies across London, including TfL, the emergency services and the Samaritans, work together to understand the risk factors of the current responses and the whole system of how we can reduce the numbers of suicide.


In answer to your question, I have a number of examples of the stuff TfL is doing.  There are six points.  I am conscious of time.  I could write to you about that, if that is OK.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Thank you.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There is detail on the sorts of things we are doing but I want to get to your question.  I will write to you, though.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Yes, thank you very much.  In view of the Night Tube, it is a very good thing that most Londoners welcome but obviously, it offers more opportunities for people to commit suicide.  What additional steps have been taken, since the Night Tube has come into existence, to help TfL staff and the public mitigate this problem?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just say?  I am not sure I can answer the specific question about additional steps on suicide.  What I can say is there are an additional 100 behind-the-badge (BTB) officers.  That does not address your question in relation to suicide in particular.  Can I go away and look at that?


Shaun Bailey AM:  I will give you a pass because it is quite detailed.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, but I was troubled by the fact that we do not mention it and I was told there is an evidence base behind that in relation to why we do not specifically mention it on the Tube.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Just to go a bit deeper, in February, you announced that TfL staff will be working with the Samaritans to receive training because there are two ends of suicide for TfL: the protection of their staff and the protection of the public.  Do you have any feedback on how that has advanced and how many members of staff have been through that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, and that was the answer I was going to give, Chairman, but  start withthe Tube or train in line with the content developed with the Samaritans to help them identify potential vulnerable customers, safely intervene when necessary and provide appropriate support.  Separately, TfL runs mental health awareness programmes such as the Back on Track project established on the DLR, which includes mental health training.  We are doing some suicide prevention work with the steering group and I can write to you again with the numbers.  I have that in the answer.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Just one: can I make a plea?  Earlier on, you talked about prevention and you talked about homelessness and certainly suicide is very analogous in preventing these things.


Can I make a plea that you would ask your health team and TfL to work with the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Tranquiliser, Anxiety, Stress, Help Association (TASHA), another London-based charity, to prevent these things happening or help the network or help TfL staff and, most importantly, for the public?  If you can give me a commitment that you will ask your team to look at those organisations that work them, it would be very much welcome.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, definitely.  Can I just reassure you?  I chaired the London Health Board meeting last week and mental health, self-harm and suicide is one of our priorities for age demographic and gender particularly, but for all Londoners.  It is an issue we need to take seriously and it is a priority.  I will do what you have suggested but also we can keep in touch.  It is all about the more ideas you have because I am afraid the problem is getting worse, not better.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Thank you, Mayor.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Thank you very much.