3. Creating a 'safety plan'
A safety plan is a tool for helping someone navigate suicidal feelings and urges.
It can also be a way for you and the person you’re supporting to plan how to communicate and check in with each other going forwards.
It takes around 20-40 minutes to complete.
Download a 'safety plan' template
Main parts of a ‘safety plan’
How to spot the signs that someone might be nearing crisis
For example, in the past, they might have experienced patterns of thinking, physical sensations or specific mental images just before a crisis.
Internal coping strategies to try
These are things that the person who is struggling can try on their own. For example, removing themselves from a situation or looking at soothing resources, images or messages.
How to use friends and family to distract from suicidal thoughts
This might be a list of people who can be contacted in a crisis, either with a request for help or with another message. This might also include a places where the person who is struggling can go, like a friend’s house, an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting, or nearby community centre.
Writing down which friends and family can help them navigate a crisis
It can be useful to have a list of trusted people to turn to when things get hard. Having several written down can help make sure that there’s always someone there.
A list of mental health professionals and agencies to call
For example, Samaritans or, if the person you’re supporting has already been in contact with their local health services, an NHS mental health crisis team.
How to make it harder for the person to harm themselves
This means removing things that could be used for suicide or self-harm from nearby the person you’re supporting.
It’s important that each step of the plan feels do-able to the person who is having suicidal thoughts and feelings. Although you can support them, for example, by gathering key phone numbers, it’s important they have ownership over each step of the plan.