Supporting someone with suicidal thoughts

If you think someone is in immediate danger, the quickest way to get help is to call an ambulance on 999.
What to do if someone is in immediate danger or experiencing a mental health crisis.

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’

For example, in the past, they might have experienced patterns of thinking, physical sensations or specific mental images just before a crisis.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.