Train driver who witnessed man’s suicide urges men to speak about  mental health

A train driver has urged men with mental health issues to seek help and discuss their problems after he witnessed a man’s suicide on the tracks in front of his train.

Barnsley train driver Mark Haigh had worked for Northern for four years when he was in the cab of a service that struck and killed a man in West Yorkshire in 2022.

Mr Haigh has spoken about his experience ahead of International Men’s Day on Sunday, for which the theme this year is ‘Zero Male Suicide’.

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According to the charity Calm – the Campaign Against Living Miserably – there are on average 18 deaths by suicide each day in the UK, 75 per cent of which are male. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Research from the group, which runs a helpline and webchat to help people by offering practical suggestions to life’s problems, shows four in 10 men under the age of 45 in the UK have contemplated taking their own lives.

Train driver Mark Haigh, who witnessed a man's suicide while he was driving.Train driver Mark Haigh, who witnessed a man's suicide while he was driving.
Train driver Mark Haigh, who witnessed a man's suicide while he was driving.

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.”

If railway staff at Northern experience such events they enter a care process provided by traumatic experience specialists.

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Northern has previously worked with the men’s mental health charity CHAPS and the male suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club on one-to-one and group sessions on resilience for their male staff.

Nick Donovan, managing director of Northern, said: “Mark’s heartfelt message is clear. We need to break down the taboo that sadly still exists around men talking about their mental health.”

Anyone struggling with their mental health can contact Samaritans for free on 116 123 or via email at [email protected]. Calm’s webchat is available on their website at

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