Safety Plan

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for individuals age 10-34, and the tenth overall cause of death in the United States (based on 2014 data).  Despite the high prevalence of suicide, it remains a taboo topic for many groups.  If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please seek help.

Oftentimes when suicide or self-harm is discussed in therapy, the client and therapist will come up with a safety plan for the individual.  The suicide prevention lifeline has a template you may follow to come up with a safety plan.  You can see that template by clicking here.

Throughout my time in therapy, I have had occasion to complete multiple safety plans.  I am going to share an example of one of them below.  It is best to complete your safety plan when you are not in crisis, and to keep a copy somewhere that is easily accessible.  If you have a close family member or friend, it is also a good idea to share your safety plan with them.  Please keep in mind, what I have written below is simply an example, and everyone should come up with their own plan.

Warning Signs a crisis may be developing:

  • Racing or slowed thoughts.
  • Feeling fearful or impending doom.
  • Obsessive thoughts of wanting to harm myself.
  • Irritability.

Things I can do on my own to distract myself:

  • Read
  • Nap
  • Get out of the house (take a walk, go to a coffee shop, or retail therapy, for example)
  • Play with my cats

People and/or social setting which provide distraction:

  • Significant other
  • Friends
  • Coffee shop or store

People I can contact for help:

  • Significant other
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Psychiatrist
  • Therapist
  • Crisis hotline

Making Environment Safe (Proactively):

  • Keep meds locked in a safe box
  • Keep alcohol out of the home

As always, if in doubt, contact a professional.  If you don’t know how to find a therapist, you can read about it here.  Stay strong and remember that depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. are not weaknesses, they are illnesses.  No one chooses to have a mental illness, but you can choose not to stigmatize it for yourself and for others.

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