Suicidal thoughts are real. Sometimes they feel like they’re here to stay but that’s not always true. They will pass. But, while they are here, a safety plan can help you get through that dark patch.
At the suicide hotline I work at, we develop something similar to safety plans with our callers. We call them “Plans of Action”. In the caller’s plan of action, we ask them what they’re going to do after the call to take care of themselves and to keep themselves safe. What goes into each POA (Plan of Action) is different for every caller and can vary in length.
A suicide safety plan is a little bit different but just as important. Safety plans help guide you through difficult moments, they’re there to keep you safe and to help with coping. It’s more in depth but once it is completed, it can be used every time you feel stressed or suicidal.
Here are things that a safety plan should include:
- When are you going to use this plan? Certain situation, thoughts, feelings, or triggers can cause you to feel stressed or suicidal. This plan can help with those situations.
- Things you can do to help keep you calm. Walking your dog, finally watching those movies on your Netflix queue, baking, etc.
- Your reasons for living. You may not think you have any but guess what. You have one already: you’re making this list. You’re already taking the first step in your safety.
- Who can you talk too? Family? Friends? Therapists? Counselors? Local Suicide Hotline? Keep these numbers and names handy.
- What’s your environment like? Are there items around that you can hurt yourself with? If there are, find ways to safely remove them or secure them in like a hard to reach cabinet or locked drawer.
- Sticking with it. You’ve made it through all of these steps and you have to promise yourself that you will use them if the time comes. Tell someone about your plan in detail. This will help you stay committed.
You can follow this template to create your own safety plan. If you need support creating the plan, remember that sometimes it’s helpful to go through the steps with a counselor or someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
As always, remember that you are not alone. You Matter. We all do. Be Safe.