A train driver who witnessed the suicide of a man in front of his train has urged men with mental health issues to seek help and talk about their problems.
Mark Haigh from Barnsley Yorkshire, who has worked for Northern trains since 2018, was at the controls of a train that struck and killed a man on the tracks in West Yorkshire in 2022.
He has now spoken out ahead of International Men’s Day on Sunday (19 November), which this year is ‘Zero Male Suicide’.
Mr Haigh said: ‘Men need to feel more comfortable talking about their mental health and there are an increasing number of groups, services and helplines out there dedicated to helping them deal with their emotions, anxieties and other struggles.
‘When I think about the guy that stepped in front of my train, it breaks my heart to think he felt there was no other option available to him.
‘If International Men’s Day helps just one man have the courage to reach out and ask for help then it has achieved an amazing thing and saved someone’s friends and family the unimaginable pain of dealing with a needless loss.’
Northern managing director Nick Donovan said: 'Mark’s heartfelt message is clear. We need to breakdown the taboo that sadly still exists around men talking about their mental health and seeking help with their problems.
‘I applaud Mark for his willingness to talk about his own, deeply upsetting, experience and his plea for men to seek the help they need so they know they’re not facing their problems alone.’
Northern pointed out that the psychological impact on train drivers and conductors who witness such events is significant.
Although all its staff who are involved in these incidents such as these enter a ‘Chain of Care’ process provided by traumatic experience specialists, it can some in cases be over a year before they are able to resume operational duties.
International Men’s Day is an annual event designed to make a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys around the world; raise awareness of the support services available to them, and promote ‘a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity’.
According to Samaritans, more than 6,000 people across the UK and the Republic of Ireland take their own lives each year and suicide is more likely among men than women - and in particular men in their 40s and 50s from a lower socio-economic group.
Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based interventions. Anyone struggling with their mental health can contact Samaritans for free on 116 123 or via email at email@example.com.