Rizwan Javed, 30, has been employed as a rail worker at a West London station since 2015.
In that time, he has saved 29 people from taking their own lives.
The Ealing Broadway station worker said to My London News that “the power of talking” is what has made the difference. When he was first hired, Javed completed the Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Contacts course, which equips rail staff with the skills to help someone at risk of suicide on the railway. Over 22,000 rail staff are certified through this program.
Javed’s training gave him the knowledge and confidence he needed to intervene with people experiencing crises, and he was eventually rewarded with the Samaritans Lifesaver Award.
He recalled his first experience putting his training into practice as “nerve-wracking.”
“Every aspect of the training was being implemented in real life and I was concerned. Am I going to say the right thing? Am I going to do the right thing? Am I going to be able to engage with this person?” Javed said.
With 29 lives saved, it appears he is doing something right.
The worker shared a few indicative signs that something is amiss, such as distressed faces and commuters taking off their clothes. (Read an article HERE written by Javed that has many useful tips and resources for approaching others.)
Javed said that his work at the station has changed his outlook on life and he aims to live as positively as he can and spread as much awareness about mental illness as he can.
“Especially during the pandemic, so many have been suffering in silence and I think [it] has shown us how lonely and depressing life can get if we don’t have our loved ones around us or if we are not communicating with someone on a daily basis,” he said.
He added that his work has inspired him to have honest, open conversations with his family members about the taboo of mental illness, and it has positively impacted the family as a whole.
“I can change myself [to make] the changes I want to see in the world,” said Javed. “As much as it sounds cheesy, we need to spread love and engage with each other a lot more than we do.”
If you are struggling, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, text MHA to 741741, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.