First Bus and Suicide Prevention UK join forces to save lives

Posted: 16 January 2024 | | No comments yet

Suicide Prevention UK and First West of England’s new initiative aims to break the stigma surrounding suicide, while raising awareness and providing a lifeline for those in need, reaching an estimated 1.5 million passengers each week.

First Bus and Suicide Prevention UK join forces to save lives

Credit: First Bus

First Bus has announced that Bristol-based Suicide Prevention UK and First West of England have embarked on an unprecedented collaboration to address a disturbing trend: individuals at risk of suicide are increasingly using buses to reach their chosen locations unnoticed, as revealed by new research. The ‘There is someone…’ campaign, signifies the first-of-its-kind partnership in the UK.

The campaign, a joint effort between the bus operator and charity, aims to provide support and guidance to those contemplating suicide by emphasising the availability of help. It also focuses on educating bus drivers about recognising signs of distress among passengers and being aware of suicide risk areas on bus routes.

“The research we’re hearing from Suicide Prevention UK is so compelling, and highlights the really important role our drivers have in helping to save lives,” said Doug Claringbold, Managing Director of First West of England. “Some take the bus industry for granted and think it’s just about getting people from A to B, but it is far more than that; it’s about our place in wider society.”

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Suicide Prevention UK, operational for the past five years, offers a national support helpline and deploys volunteers to patrol suicide risk areas in the west of England. In response to over 43,000 calls in the past three years, the charity’s data reveals a concerning rise in the use of public transport, particularly buses, by those at risk.

Marianne Ramnath, Suicide Prevention UK’s Operations Manager, said: “This campaign with First West of England demonstrates the role the company and its drivers can play in helping to save lives in what is often a taboo area. Suicide is scary and uncomfortable to talk about, but by raising awareness, educating each other, making it known that there is support out there and encouraging people to reach out for help, together we can break the stigma and save lives.”

The campaign addresses the reasons behind choosing public transport, such as accessibility, affordability and the ability to blend in with other passengers. The enhanced training for bus drivers includes identifying physical and visual signs of distress among passengers. An on-board marketing campaign will be launched in the coming weeks, reaching up to 1.5 million passengers each week on over 500 buses in the West of England.

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