The importance of small talk


Network Rail’s Dom Mottram, age 32, knows the importance of small talk after he experienced suicidal thoughts aged 19 and was considering taking his life when a lady approached him and asked him a question – her kindness “snapping him out of harming himself in the moment”. Dom has since helped others in a similar situation both in and out of the rail environment.

Dom said: “I’m thankful for the ripple effect of that lady saving my life – without her stopping and checking if I was okay, I might not be here to now look out for and save others. I’m always on the lookout for anyone who might need help. If I see someone who looks out of place or a bit down, I often just go over and ask if they’re alright and try and bring them to a place of safety. Nine times out of ten the person is absolutely fine – but trusting my instincts and talking to that one person can make such a difference.

“It took me a long time before I spoke to anyone about that moment – but it was a wake-up call and I eventually got help from the university and my family. I’ve had my ups and downs with my mental health after that, but I’ve come a long way since my 19-year-old self and feel I know how to support my mental health now. I’d encourage everyone to talk about how they’re feeling and ask for help. It’s so true that small talk is enough to save someone’s life – just as it did for me and it’s what I always try to do for others.” 

Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said: “We know that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the nation’s mental health and wellbeing and even though restrictions are lifting, people are still struggling. It’s so important we look out for one another now more than ever, because suicide is preventable and it’s everybody’s business.

“How people act when they are struggling to cope is different for everyone – people may seem distant or upset, but suicidal thoughts are often temporary – so if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and try and start a conversation. Whether that’s on a journey home from work as we start to travel more or someone you may pass in the street – any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life. Let’s start a conversation and work together to prevent suicide.”

photo credit Chris Turner


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