WHAT IS A SAFETY PLAN?
A safety plan is a list of coping strategies and social supports that people can use when they are in a suicidal crisis or very distressed. It helps them not act on their suicidal feelings. The plan is brief, is in the individuals’ own words, and is easy to read. It is an emergency plan for suicide crises.
WHO SHOULD HAVE A SAFETY PLAN?
Anyone who gets suicidal and wants help feeling better and less suicidal.
Clinicians can collaborate with individuals to develop the safety plan. Individuals can also develop plans on their own.
IMPLEMENTING THE SAFETY PLAN
There are 6 Steps involved in the development of a Safety Plan.
Step 1: Warning Signs
List warning signs of a suicide crisis. Include specific thoughts, images, thinking processes, mood, and/or behaviors
Step 2: Internal Coping Strategies
List activities that can be done without anyone else involved to cope and distract from suicidal thoughts, e.g. going online, listening to calming music, talking a walk, watching television.
Step 3: Social Contacts and Social Settings That May Distract from the Crisis
List individuals and safe social settings that can distract and support the individual. Discussion of suicidal feelings are not included here.
Step 4: Family Members or Friends Who May Offer Help
List family members and/or friends who can help with the suicidal crisis. Discussion of suicidal feelings can be included here.
Step 5: Professionals and Agencies to Contact for Help
List important health professionals, local ER, crisis line number
Step 6: Making the Environment Safe
Identify how to restrict/remove access to lethal means.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS AFTER THE PLAN IS DEVELOPED?
ASSESS the likelihood that the overall safety plan will be used.
Problem solve to identify barriers or obstacles to using the plan. Determine how to eliminate them.
REVIEW the plan periodically to determine whether the plan needs to be revised.
The Safety Plan app was developed with permission from Stanley & Brown (2012). Developers: Barbara Stanley, Gregory K. Brown, and Padraic Doyle. New York State Office of Mental Health.