"So Many Have Been Suffering in Silence": Rail Worker, Rizwan Javed on Saving 29 People's Lives
Since 2015, a West London station rail worker has prevented 29 people from committing suicide.
Rizwan Javed, 30, from East London, works at Ealing Broadway station on the MTR Elizabeth Line.
In 2018, he received the Samaritans Lifesaver Award, honouring those who have used their communication and listening abilities to save lives.
In 2015, the 30-year-old completed the Samaritans' Managing Suicidal Contacts training course, preparing rail personnel to assist people who felt suicidal on the railway.
The prize, according to Rizwan, was "overwhelming."
“It's a symbol of all the hard work of, not only myself but colleagues and the Samaritans. It reminds me I can do better, it doesn’t stop here, the journey continues," he said.
Rizwan has had a significant influence on travellers at the West London station. He recalled one instance in which he assisted a woman who entered the station.
He said: “I was on a night shift one day and a young lady walked in.
“As I was going back to my office, I noticed the same person looking distressed. These were signs that rang alarm bells for me and I had to react quickly.
“Initially I phoned the signalmen who control our line and I got a line block in place. [I then] ran over to the individual [and] made conversation - it wasn’t easy initially, it was hard to engage.
“She had various thoughts in her head but eventually I talked her into a place of safety. After communicating with her for an hour, I called the British Transport Police who were going to come and assist her and provide support.
“We contacted her family who came down and was very supportive. Together all of the parties involved ensured she was safe and got the help she needed to potentially get back on track with her life and achieve all of the things she is capable of.”
Rizwan made such an impression on the woman that she praised him a week later.
The Samaritans, in collaboration with Network Rail, has educated 22,000 rail employees and British Transport Police officers on how to assist someone in danger of suicide on the railway.
Rizwan said: “Having this training quite early in my career gave me the confidence and awareness on how to identify vulnerable people and approach a vulnerable situation.
“The Samaritans has helped me help other people.”
The rail worker finally overcame his fears and was able to assist others in need. He mentioned 'distressed facial expressions' and commuters' removing their clothes' as warning flags. Furthermore, he urges people to discuss subjects to 'distract' persons who may want assistance.
Rizwan, a British Asian, also mentioned how the Samaritans training sparked discussions regarding mental health.
“I was educating my family, extended family and friends and spreading awareness of how important it is we speak to one another and it is ok not to be ok.
“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 daily.”
The rail worker remains a positive impact on the station, frequently wishing travellers a "good morning" or a "beautiful day" to brighten their day.
He said: “It's given me a positive mindset, I want to continue to make a difference in my life and spread awareness so others can do the same.
“I can change myself [to make] the changes I want to see in the world. As much as it sounds cheesy, we need to spread love and engage with each other in London a lot more than we do.”