There is around one suicide on the UK’s railways every 30 hours. The emotional
costs to the individual’s family, friends, fellow commuters and transport staff are
immeasurable. Middlesex University is passionate about undertaking research to
prevent suicide attempts on railways and other public locations.
Associate Professor of Psychology Lisa Marzano is now leading a study to develop a
better understanding of how to support people in crisis and prevent suicide attempts.
A key element is an online survey investigating how bystanders react when they
come into contact with someone who appears to be in distress and/or suicidal. The
study is open to 16+ age groups and can be accessed via this link:
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. All responses are completely anonymous and confidential.
The research was commissioned by the Samaritans on behalf of the rail industry as
part of their suicide reduction and prevention work. It is being carried out by a multi-
disciplinary team of academics at Middlesex University (Dr Bob Fields, Dafni
Katsampa, and Ian Kruger) and the University of Westminster (Dr Jay-Marie
The Quest team’s previous research investigated what influences and deters people
from taking their lives on railways. It spearheaded the 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.
For more information about this work, and a link to the current survey, please