Developing a Safety Plan

18 September 2020 , Posted by Rachel Bate & Julie Loveny

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s very important to have a plan in place for when things become more difficult. If you have a plan you can refer to, you can keep yourself or another person safe in a time of distress. If you are feel that you or someone you know is feeling unsafe or in danger, please call 000.

A safety plan is like a toolkit that includes various strategies to help you cope during a crisis, and can help you to more control when things seem out of control. To ensure your strategy is effective and available when it needs to be, consider the following when developing a safety plan:

– Pick a good time to write your plan, a time where you feel clear-headed, calm and comfortable. If at all possible talk to someone you trust, such as your GP, a health professional or a close friend/family member and tell them that you want to create a plan.

– Put your plan in writing, and put it away somewhere that is easily found when needed. Ask yourself a few questions to start, consider when you might need this plan (note possible triggers and warning signs), and what you can do to feel better (list all the things you can do to feel safe and secure again).

– List your reasons for living, whether big or small consider all the things that are important to you. Think about the people around you, the food you love, a pet, your favourite music, or anything that makes you feel happy to be alive

– Consider who can support you; make a list of contact details for people who can help and support you, and professional resources that can assist you when you need it. Include back up options in case the first isn’t available, and include times they are available so you know who you can talk to and when.

– Make your environment safe and avoid things that will make you feel worse. For example don’t stay in a room that may be making you feel worse, and secure or remove items that you may use to hurt yourself. Include actions in your plan you can take to make yourself feel safer.

You must remember to be committed to your safety plan, ensure you use it when you need it. Considering your external supports can be very helpful in times of crisis, here are some links to online and telephone services that can be accessed from almost anywhere at almost any time:
Beyond Blue has created an online resource to assist in safety planning, and additionally an app that may make your safety plan more easily accessible when you aren’t at home.
The Suicide Call Back Service provides immediate telephone counselling and support in a crisis and can provide up to six further telephone counselling sessions with the same counsellor scheduled at times best suited to your needs. This service is available 24/7 across Australia.
Lifeline can provide phone and online support to Australians experiencing a personal crisis, with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Always remember to access help when you need it, as there are trained professionals that can assist you if you feel unsafe. Try making an appointment with a GP or a health care profession to discuss the idea of a safety plan further. Remember if you are at risk of harming yourself or know someone who is at risk, call 000.