Day 453

Taxi Watch.
What is it? Where?
It is a proactive approach to suicide prevention by taxi drivers in Northern Ireland.
Why was it set up?
Londonderry has a long-standing tradition of community-based initiatives, including creches and schools. The city’s taxi drivers wanted to do something to help the many distressed and suicidal individuals their work brought them into contact with. Four types of scenario were causing the drivers concern:

  • Preventing suicides in public places
  • Having a distressed passenger in the cab and listening to them pour out their troubles, but not knowing how to respond
  • Driving across the local river and spotting an individual on one of the bridges who was clearly contemplating jumping, and feeling ill-equipped to intervene
  • Seeing an individual in the water and being unable to effect a rescue

They set up Taxi Watch, initially with a small amount of private funding. The scheme provides ASIST and safeTALK training to taxi drivers to equip them with the skills and confidence to engage with someone who may be suicidal and to keep them safe. It provides them with rescue kits that can be kept in the cab. These include basic first-aid equipment and a throw-line that can be used to pull someone out of the water. The throw-lines are particularly important in preventing an individual being swept away, as the river is notoriously fast-flowing and it may be too late by the time the emergency services arrive. They are trained in the use of the equipment and in basic first aid. More funding from the BIG Lottery has meant that the drivers have been able to extend their role as first responders, and now also carry defibrillators.

Everyone can do something – hair-dressers, bartenders, bus drivers, train staff and passengers …

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