A new Samaritans survey shows only half of the nation feel confident approaching someone they are concerned about in public. So, to boost public confidence, the rail industry has teamed up with Samaritans volunteers for the latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.
MDX Theme Director and Associate Professor in Psychology, Dr Lisa Marzano, is supporting and advising the campaign and the charity.
The new campaign comes after new research from Samaritans revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they were concerned about in public. The survey also found that we’re in danger of losing our personal touch as a nation, as people would much prefer chatting to someone they don’t know on the phone (33%) or by email (18%), compared to face-to-face (9%).
“In our latest research we spoke to those who had made and received interventions themselves and they really echoed the main Small Talk Saves Lives message. We heard how powerful it can be to use small talk or to ask simple questions, in a calm manner. We also found reassuring results around teamwork and the fact that you don’t have to manage this alone – you could speak to a member of staff or call 999 in an emergency too.” Associate Professor in Psychology, Lisa Marzano, Middlesex University
The top reasons holding the nation back were "worrying the person wouldn’t welcome their approach" (44%) and ‘worrying they’d make things worse’ (29%), whilst a quarter said "not knowing what to say" was also a concern.
So, Samaritans is relaunching its Small Talk Saves Lives campaign today, in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry, to empower the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation if they think someone needs help on the railways or in other public settings. The campaign reassures the public that a little small talk like ‘where can I get a coffee?’ can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help set them on a path to recovery.
Launched in 2017, Small Talk Saves Lives was developed after research showed the positive part the public could play in suicide prevention. The campaign is backed by our suicide prevention expert Dr Lisa Marzano.
She said: “In our latest research we spoke to those who had made and received interventions themselves and they really echoed the main Small Talk Saves Lives message. We heard how powerful it can be to use small talk or to ask simple questions, in a calm manner. We also found reassuring results around teamwork and the fact that you don’t have to manage this alone – you could speak to a member of staff or call 999 in an emergency too.”
Julie Bentley, Samaritans CEO Samaritans said: “It’s normal to feel anxious about starting a conversation with someone you don’t know in person, but at Samaritans we know first-hand how life-changing that conversation could be. Suicidal thoughts are often temporary and there’s no evidence to suggest that you will make the situation worse – it’s about trusting your instincts, starting a conversation, and showing you care. We know it’s been a really challenging time for people’s mental health over the last few years, so we hope the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign to build that confidence and remind the public of the difference they can make. Let’s continue to look out for one another – it could save a life.”
About the research:
The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2,004 Nationally Representative UK General Consumers (16+) between 03.01.2023 - 05.01.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.
Samaritans and Small Talk Saves Lives:
Find out more about studying Psychology at Middlesex