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Developing a Safety Plan

February 24, 2017

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the Unites States. Every year, more than 44,000 Americans die by suicide. While there is no “one size fits all” treatment for someone experiencing suicidal thoughts, evidence shows that protective factors can help lessen the likelihood of suicide among adults. At Skyland Trail, clients learn to identify protective factors through our evidence-based treatment model. As part of their treatment plan, clients work with our clinical team to discuss and develop protective factors such as a safety plan that can help decrease suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Family and friends can encourage a loved one to create a safety plan when he or she is not experiencing suicidal thoughts and can think clearly. A safety plan identifies a set of strategies and support systems that your loved one can use when he or she experiences warning signs of a crisis.

HOW TO DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN:

1. Identify warning signs.

  • What are my thoughts, mood or behaviors during times of crisis?
  • What do you experience when you feel extremely distressed?

2. Develop internal coping strategies.

  • What can I do to take my mind of my problems without contacting another person?
    • Practice a relaxation technique such as meditation
    • Engage in a physical activity or hobby like going on a walk or knitting

3. Identify people and social settings that provide distraction.

  • Who or what social setting will help take your mind off your problems at least for a little while?
  • Who helps you feel better when you socialize with them?
    • Example: My friend Bob likes to watch football. When I’m feeling down, I can go watch football with him. It will provide a distraction and I can enjoy the company of a friend without having to talk about my feelings.
    • Name_____________________________ Phone____________________
    • Place _____________________________

4. Have a list of people you can ask for help

  • List family members or friends who you can contact during crisis.
    • Name_____________________________ Phone____________________
    • Name_____________________________ Phone____________________

5. Make a list of professionals or agencies to contact during a crisis.

  • Clinician Name and Phone Number
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Urgent Care Services
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Line in Georgia: 1-800-715-4225

6. How can I make my environment safe?

Encourage your loved one to complete a safety plan and keep it handy – maybe save it on his or her phone or keep a print out in a purse or wallet. And ensure that you have a copy too. The safety plan is designed to build a person’s sense of internal locus of control and is a helpful resource for both you and your loved one during times of crisis.

Dawn Collinge, Education Outreach Coordinator, recently presented Family STEP on Suicide Prevention. In her presentation, she shares how the safety plan is a useful tool for individuals who are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Listen to her full presentation on Suicide Awareness >