Nearly half of people avoid engaging with strangers to swerve small talk – poll

Nearly half (49%) of British adults avoid engaging with strangers to prevent small talk, a new survey suggests.

Some 94% of respondents to the poll commissioned by the Samaritans said they do not have a go-to question to start small talk.

The research was carried out as part of the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign to remind people that starting a conversation with someone who appears to need help near the railway can reduce the number of suicides.

Samaritans chief executive Julie Bentley said: “Every day, there are people across Great Britain who are in distress and need support.

“Our Small Talk Saves Lives campaign empowers people to trust their instincts and have the confidence to act in a way that could save a life.”

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The Small Talk Saves Lives campaign has shown us how we each have the skills to genuinely help someone in distress.

“I am ever so proud of our relationship with Samaritans and British Transport Police and hope this next stage of the campaign continues to help educate and inform people that small talk can be lifesaving.”

British Transport Police assistant chief constable Paul Furnell said: “We remain committed to protecting vulnerable people across the network.

“This campaign continues to encourage us all to try a little small talk, but if you don’t feel comfortable or safe to intervene, tell a member of rail staff or a police officer.

“You can text British Transport Police on 61016 or call 999.”

The survey of 2,000 British adults was conducted by research company YouGov last month.

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