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How to create a safety plan for if you feel suicidal

A safety plan can help remind a person of their reasons to live if they are feeling suicidal


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Having a tough time and need to talk? Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer. Standard text rates may apply.

A safety plan is a plan for someone to use if they are feeling suicidal to remind themselves of their reasons to live, remain safe and to help them cope when they feel like their safety is at risk. It is often a tool used in support services. A person will fill out their personal safety plan when they are in a less risky headspace, answering questions around topics such as family and friends that can support them, how to make a safe space if they are feeling suicidal and ways they can help themselves if they are having suicidal thoughts. If you create a safety plan it is a good idea to then go through it with a GP or mental health professional who can ensure it is the best plan of action for you.

Below we will outline seven sections that you can fill out in order to create your personal safety plan. Remember, it is worth while to create a safety plan when you feel in the head space to do so, so that it can be there for you when you need it most. Safety plans can differ in style across support services and this is just one way we suggest that you can create yours.

7 steps to creating a suicide safety plan 

Step 1: Warning signs

Your first step in creating your safety plan is to write down a list of your warning signs. Your warning signs are signals to yourself that you are potentially heading towards a low place. These signs can include not wanting to spend time with other people, not wanting to go to school or work or not being able to sleep. Identifying what your warning signs are can help you act on them early and get the support you need.

Step 2: Reasons to live

Step two is writing down a paragraph that focuses on some of your reasons to live. When you are feeling suicidal it is easy to lose sight of all the possible wonderful things in your life that make you happy and the people around you that love you. Having a list of things that bring you happiness in life that you can reflect on when you are down can help you concentrate on the positives and manage your negative feelings. What you write on this list is completely up to you and they can be big and small, such as your favourite food or pets and the people in your life that you love or what you hope to do in the future.

Step 3: Making my space safe

If you are feeling suicidal, it is important to get yourself to a safe space where you do not have access to things that could use to harm yourself. For step three, write a list of places you need to avoid or things you need to remove yourself from in order to keep you safe when feeling suicidal. An example of what could be on this list is:

  • Give my medication to someone else to look after and stay with someone close to me who can support me
  • Do not drink, and avoid spending time with people who are drinking
  • Remove anything from my home that I could use to self harm

Step 4: Things I can do by myself

Create a list of things that you can do that will help distract yourself from suicidal thoughts. This list can be made up of anything you enjoy, that can keep you safe and are beneficial to your mental health. Examples of these can be listening to music, exercising, watching something you enjoy or reading.

Safetypaln2

Step 5: People and places that I can connect with

If you are feeling suicidal, being around other people can be a great support and help improve how you are feeling. Make a list of people you like spending time with that you can contact if you are feeling low. Let the people know that you have added them to your list and that you may turn to them for support if you are feeling suicidal. Other things you can add to the list are places that make you feel safe and happy, such as your favourite walk or parent’s house.

Step 6: People who you can call for help

Create a list of people you know you will be able to call for support if you are feeling suicidal. Include their name and their contact details. You should feel you could contact the people on this list at any time and they would be able to come and support you, such as your parents, family members, partners or close friends.

Step 7: Professional supports

Remember that professional support is always available to you if you are feeling suicidal.

If you have a counsellor or health care professional that you see regularly, add their contact details to your list. If you think your need emergency support do not hesitate in contacting 999 or 112 and calling an ambulance to where you are.

Other support numbers that can help you:

Samaritans

  • Samaritans offer a confidential listening service where you can speak openly about issues you may be facing
  • Call Freephone: 116 123
  • Text: 087 260 90 90 (standard text rates apply)
  • Email: jo@samaritans.ie

Childline

  • Childline offers text message and instant messaging support
  • These services allow you to talk with a counsellor about anything and receive support or help with whatever is worrying you at the moment
  • Whatever is said on the instant messaging service is confidential - so it will stay between you and Childline
  • Childline text and instant messaging services are available from 10am-4pm, and their phone line 1800 66 66 66 is 24 hours
  • Text 'Talk' to 50101 to talk to a trained counsellor by text message

Pieta House

  • Pieta House offers specialised treatment to clients who self harm, suffer from suicidal thoughts or have made multiple suicide attempts
  • Pieta House currently offers 24/7 support through SMS text messages, text 'Help' to 51444 to get started (standard text messaging rates apply)
  • You can also email them 24/7 by sending a message to mary@pieta.ie but there may be a delay in receiving a reply

There are many other support services around the country for both people dealing with suicidal thoughts and those supporting them. If you visit our Find Help section you search by services and location to find suicide support groups in your local area.

Having a tough time and need to talk? Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer. Standard text rates may apply.

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Published Sep­tem­ber 9th2019
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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