A suicide safety plan is ideally developed with a clinician leading a discussion with the minor youth and family members who will play a role in helping with any aspects of the plan. Since suicidal urges come and go, safety plans support the youth and family in developing ways to cope when suicide risk is most acute.
Making Your Safety Plan
A safety plan is designed to guide your youth through a crisis. As he/she continues through the steps in the plan, he/she can get help and feel safer. The plan should be easily accessible by anyone who is a part of the plan (make multiple copies and have one posted in a common space in the home).
Youth-lead sections of plan will include:
- Recognize your personal warning signs: What thoughts, images, moods, situations, and behaviors indicate to you that a crisis may be developing? Write these down in your own words.
- Use your own coping strategies: List things that you can do on your own to help you not act on urges to harm yourself.
- Socialize with others who may offer support as well as distraction from the crisis: List people and social settings that may help take your mind off of difficult thoughts or feelings.
- Contact family members or friends who may help to resolve a crisis: Make a list of people who are supportive and who you feel you can talk to when under stress.
- Contact mental health professionals or agencies: Make a list of names, numbers and locations of clinicians, local emergency rooms, and crisis hotlines. Put the Lifeline number (800-273-8255) and/or and the Oregon Youthline (877-968-8491) into your phone. For text option, text “teen2teen” to 839863
- Ensure your environment is safe: Have you thought of ways in which you might harm yourself? Work with a counselor to develop a plan to limit your access to these means.
Additional steps in your safety plan for family members:
- Ways my parents/family/friends will recognize I need help: What signs might the people closest to me see that I might not be noticing for myself?
- Things that are helpful for me to hear from the people in my immediate circle: List the ways in which you can best hear concerns from others.
- Things that are definitely not helpful to hear: List words or sentiments that are triggering to you. Ask for people to be sensitive to avoid these and choose other ways (the helpful ways) to communicate with you.
- Who will help youth to call health professionals or crisis hotline if he/she is unable to do it for self? This includes any siblings or childcare providers who may in a position to have to make a call.
What will be done in the household to create a safe environment for everyone who lives there? This section includes suicide safety steps (locking up or removing medications, weapons, alcohol, sharps) and it also considers siblings/childcare and pets in the event of another crisis.