Safety Plans

Safety Plans

A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step-by-step at times when you may be thinking about suicide.

They are also known as crisis plans. Templates are available from Papyrus and Get Self Help or you can write your own. Often these go inside a hope box (also known as a crisis box).

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.

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