A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step-by-step at times when you may be thinking about suicide.
For suicidal ideation, The Mayo Clinic website suggests:
“Your plan is a checklist of activities and actions you promise to do, so you can stay safe when you have thoughts of suicide, such as:
- Contact your doctor, therapist or crisis center to help you cope with suicidal thoughts
- Call a supportive family member or friend who can help you cope with your suicidal thoughts
- Try specific healthy and enjoyable activities when negative thoughts start to intrude
- Review why your life is valuable and the reasons to live.”
A good plan will:
- Include recommendations or strategies to ease the symptoms
- Identify people willing to help
- List the phone numbers of the mental health providers and the mental health crisis team
- Include a list of current medications and their dosages
- List treatments that have been used in the past (CBT, DBT, etc.)
- Identify key words or calming techniques that have worked in the past
- Identify your loved one’s preferred treatment facilities
- Include a copy of their advanced psychiatric directive (if available)
Your safety plan might include:
- recognising your warning signs
- details of your own coping strategies – what has helped in the past and what you can do to help yourself now e.g. mindfulness, meditation, thought challenging, gratitude exercises, looking in a hope box, or exercise
- the names and contact details of loved ones or telephone support services who can help in a crisis
- the names and contact details of professionals or agencies you can contact during a crisis
- steps on making your environment safe and details of a safe place you can go to if you need
Try to make a plan when you are well or able to think clearly about what you find helpful. You might want to complete the plan with a trusted friend or therapist and give them a copy to keep.
Go to our other services page for ideas of hotlines, SMS services and charities for your contacts list.
Suggestions for starters:
- When I am feeling well, I am (describe yourself when you are feeling well
- Make a list of the signs that indicate that I am no longer able to make decisions for myself, or that I am no longer able to be responsible for myself or to make appropriate decisions
- When I clearly have some of the above signs, make a list of people to make decisions for me, see that I get appropriate treatment and to give me care and support
- List of people I do not want involved in any way in my care or treatment. List names and (optionally) why you do not want them involved
- Preferred medications and why
- Acceptable medications and why
- Unacceptable medications and why
- Acceptable treatments and why
- Unacceptable treatments and why
- Home/Community Care/Respite Options
- Preferred treatment facilities and why
- Unacceptable treatment facilities and why
- What I want from my supporters when I am feeling this badly
- What I don’t want from my supporters when I am feeling this badly
- What I want my supporters to do if I’m a danger to myself or others
- Things I need others to do for me and who I want to do it
- How I want disagreements between my supporters settled
- Things I can do for myself
- Indicators that supporters no longer need to use this plan
- I developed this document myself with the help and support of
When to use your safety plan
- You feel suicidal.
- There are thoughts of self-harm in your mind.
- You experience a mental health crisis or relapse.
- Anytime you are overwhelmed with negative emotions: anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, grief.