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Son's suicide sparks fathers campaign

Alan Ritchie died in 2015 Photo: ITV Border

A man from Lockerbie who lost his son to suicide is raising awareness of the support that Samaritans can provide at this time of year.

Frank Ritchie has successfully campaigned for a poster for the charity to be installed, at the railway station where his son Alan died in 2015, when he was 31.

He says that helping someone in distress can easily be done by making small talk:

What very often would happen in the past would be people would say well that's not really my problem.

They would just walk on by and what the railway staff and Samaritans are saying is that you should have the confidence to go forward and to engage that person in conversation.

Basically say to them are you alright or mention something about the weather and identify if they are in fact ok or if in some kind of emotional distress."

– Frank Ritchie

The Samaritans have been involved with railway companies for many years and up to 11,000 station staff are trained to spot the signs of someone feeling troubled.

Frank Ritchie (left), MSP Oliver Mundell (middle) Mark Smith, Alive Radio (right) pictured next to the poster Frank campaigned for Credit: ITV Border

Frank's local MSP Oliver Mundell is among those backing his activities to raise awareness:

I think he's been exceptionally courageous in taking this campaign forward. Obviously given the time of year I think it has a particular importance.

There are many people who feel particularly alone at Christmas and we all know that railway stations are a particular danger point when it comes to suicide.

– MSP Oliver Mundell

Frank says he is hopeful people won't turn the other way if they think somebody might be showing the signs of a mental health issue in public.

He says you should look out for somebody who:

  • appears distressed
  • appears to be upset
  • is standing alone or further up the platform
  • appears agitated
  • isn't acting in the same manor as everyone else

For more information about the service Samaritans provides click here.

See Pam Royle's interview with Samaritans: