Impact of rail suicide

Every suicide leaves a lasting effect on family and friends, as well as rail staff, passengers and the wider community.

When considering the impact of a suicide or attempted suicide, it’s important to remember that suicide is a complex issue. When a person is experiencing suicidal feelings, they may not be thinking with a clear mind and may not be able to see past their own situation. Instead, they may feel hopeless, disconnected or believe that others might be better off without them.


A suicide event on the railway affects many individuals including train drivers, station staff that witness the event, first line responders who attend the scene, cleaning teams who must tidy up after it and the list goes on. For drivers, being involved in an event and being unable to prevent it often leaves drivers feeling guilty heavily traumatised. Staff based within stations may not want to go back to work as the station can trigger painful memories of an event. Others may fear a similar incident occurring


Customers can also be traumatised and as a result of their experience never travel by rail again. For some who may themselves be vulnerable to suicide it may prompt them to consider this as a means of taking their own life.


Possibly the most recognisable impact of a suicide on the railway is the delay it causes to train services and the journeys of our passengers. An event in the South of England can have an impact on services as far North as Scotland. Every year suicides delay trains by around 400,000 minutes and the average delay attributable to a suicide events is circa 1,500 minutes. In the most extreme cases delays across the network can be in excess of 15,000 minutes.

Financial cost

There is a considerable cost to the industry associated with suicide amounting to around £50 to £60 million per annum – money that would otherwise be invested in the railway and its improvements.

Wider community

A suicide on the railway can cause a location to get a poor reputation, it may mean that people no longer want to travel to the area and whilst the effects of an event differ for every individual, it often leaves them needing counselling or some support. This has a wider impact on our health services.

Supporting you

Whatever you’re facing, Samaritans are there to listen – day or night. Call them free on 116 123, or visit
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