MDX suicide prevention research recognised in the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers List’

16/05/2019
Middlesex University’s research to prevent suicides is listed on the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers List’ as part of the #MadeAtUni campaign

Associate Professor Lisa Marzano’s research to develop a better understanding of how to support people in crisis and prevent suicide attempts has been named on the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers List’ because of its exceptional contribution to the nation’s wellbeing.

Associate Professor Marzano’s work is named for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

Marzano is appealing to the public to take part in an online survey to help her research team investigate how bystanders react when they come into contact with people on the railways and other public locations who are in distress and/or suicidal.

The research team is particularly keen to hear from people who have experienced emotional distress and those who have stepped in to help or wanted to but did not know what to do.

The research was commissioned by the Samaritans on behalf of the rail industry as part of their suicide reduction and prevention work. There is around one suicide on Britain’s railways every 30 hours. The emotional costs to the individual’s family, friends, fellow commuters and transport staff are immeasurable.

"Our previous research suggested that a simple conversation can help save someone's life. We're now going a step further and want to find out why some people intervene, what prevents others from doing so, and, above all, what makes for a safe, effective, 'life-saving' intervention." Associate Professor Lisa Marzano, Middlesex University

Marzano’s previous research investigated what influences and deters people from taking their lives on railways. It spearheaded the Samaritans’ and rail industry’s ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign urging commuters to start a conversation with a person in distress in order to interrupt their suicidal thoughts.

Commenting on the survey, Associate Professor Marzano said:

“Our previous research suggested that a simple conversation can help save someone’s life. Indeed, for every life lost on Britain’s railways, at least six appear to be saved by those around them. We’re now going a step further and want to find out why some people intervene, what prevents others from doing so, and, above all, what makes for a safe, effective, ‘life-saving’ intervention. When we analyse our survey results we’ll aim to produce a guide to help commuters and the general public know what to do in a crisis situation. In order to do this we need as many people as possible to get involved. It’s really important that we get responses from all 16+ age groups and from across the UK to ensure our research reflects a wide range of experiences. Suicide is preventable, and we can all play a role in that.”

The study is open to 16+ age groups and all responses are completely anonymous and confidential.

Ian Stevens MBE, Rail Industry Spokesman for Suicide Prevention, added:

“The railway is at the heart of most communities in this country and knowing how suicide impacts on them, it makes sense for the industry to contribute to a better understanding of how they can be prevented and how those in crisis can be supported.  Those in the railway community suffer too every time a fatality occurs on the network.  For example, train drivers become traumatised and some never return to work as a result of their experiences.  For their sake as well, research of this nature is important to help relieve the anxiety many have when they enter a driving cab and wonder whether they’ll return home in the same state of mind as when they left.”

Samaritans Strategic Programme Manager, Neil Peters said: “A simple question can be enough to interrupt suicidal thoughts and save a life, as the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign demonstrated. We welcome more research that looks at the impact of interventions and the difference they can make to people who are going through different things.

“As part of this new research, we want to hear from people with lived experience to help us determine the best support to put in place to help them in future.”

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