Perth Samaritans is reminding the public that they all have the potential to be lifesavers by simply striking up a conversation, as part of the charity’s latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.
A survey by the charity revealed that only half the nations would feel confident approaching someone they are concerned about in public, so in an effort to boost public confidence, Perth Samaritans will be at the St John’s Centre in Perth from 2pm until 5pm on Saturday 4th of March to speak to members of the public about the campaign, highlighting the power of talking and providing myth busting leaflets to help ease any concerns they may have in approaching someone in distress.
Laura McVean from Perth Samaritans spoke about the importance of talking and listening which could help save a life, saying: “It’s understandable that you might feel nervous about approaching someone you don’t know, but at Samaritans we know that suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts are often temporary. So, just by having the confidence to trust your instincts, and use those small talk skills we all have, it could be all it takes to help interrupt those thoughts.
“We hope that message is reassuring to people if they are worried, as there’s no evidence that you will make the situation worse and you don’t need training for this. It’s about being there for that person, listening and showing you care which can make all the difference. It has been a challenging time for everyone recently, so let’s look out for one another and save lives.”
The new campaign comes after the new research from Samaritans revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they don’t know if they were concerned about them in public. The survey also suggested that as a nation we are more comfortable behind a screen, 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%).
Of those who said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching someone they don’t know, the top reasons holding them 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.
As a result of the survey Samaritans have relaunched their Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry, with the aim of empowering the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation with someone if they think they need help on the railways or in any other setting.
The charity have launched a new film which 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 the path to recovery.
The campaign was originally 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 suicide prevention expert Dr Lisa Marzano from Middlesex University who 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.”
For more information and tips, visit Samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives