'Small talk saves lives': Campaign launched to encourage chatting to someone in need

  • Louise McNally, suicide prevention lead for Network Rail, spoke with ITV Wales.

A new campaign is hoping to save lives by urging more people in Wales to engage in small talk with strangers.

New findings released by Samaritans reveal that almost half of adults in Wales avoid chatting with someone they don’t know to avoid small talk – while 31% are worried they would say the wrong thing if they did.

'Small talk saves lives' empowers the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation if they think someone needs help in railway stations and other public settings.

The campaign reassures the public that a little small talk could help set them on the journey to recovery.

Louise McNally, suicide prevention lead for Network Rail, said: "It's something that's come up in our research, that people are quiet nervous to make small talk anyway outside of a stressful situation such as an intervention.

"But the smallest thing, the simplest of conversations can be enough to break someone's suicidal thoughts and potentially save a life.

"People aren't full of confidence if they're going to approach somebody, particularly if it's someone in distress.

"But a simple conversation like 'where can I get a coffee?' or 'I really like your shoes' can make all the difference."

Worried about mental health?


Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

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CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – open from 5pm to midnight every day, for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

  • Phone their helpline: 0800 585858 (Daily, 5pm to midnight)

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For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

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Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals.

It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

  • Phone Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4pm)

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The Martin Gallier Project

The Martin Gallier Project are a Wirral-based charity dedicated to helping individuals and families across the North West of England.

They were the UK's first Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention charity. The project offers non clinical suicide interventions on the high street, with no barriers to access, waiting list or criteria.

The service is open 7 days a week 9.30am-4.30pm - lines and emails are only monitored during these hours.

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Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said, "Every day, there are people across Great Britain who are in distress and need support.

"Our Small Talk Saves Lives campaign empowers people to trust their instincts and have the confidence to act in a way that could save a life.

"To mark the start of the four-week campaign, we are launching our Small Talk Salon at London’s King’s Cross railway station today, seeing our remarkable volunteers raise awareness of the campaign, whilst encouraging commuters to pluck up the courage to use small talk, to support those in need of help."

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The Small Talk Saves Lives campaign has shown us how we each have the skills to genuinely help someone in distress.

"I am ever so proud of our relationship with Samaritans and British Transport Police and hope this next stage of the campaign continues to help educate and inform people that small talk can be lifesaving.”

British Transport Police assistant chief constable, Paul Furnell said: “We remain committed to protecting vulnerable people across the network.

"Our experience tells us that engaging in conversation at the right time can make all the difference.

"This campaign continues to encourage us all to try a little small talk, but if you don’t feel comfortable or safe to intervene, tell a member of rail staff or a police officer. You can text British Transport Police on 61016 or call 999.”

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