How to make a safety plan
This article discusses suicide. If you feel like you’re going to act on suicidal thoughts, call 000 if you live in Australia. A number of crisis support services are also there for you – have a look at our urgent help page.
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, it's important to have a plan for those times when you might feel alone or like there's no way out. By making a safety plan and having it ready, you can take care of yourself when things get tough. Don’t hesitate to call the people who are trained to help if it ever feels like you're really in crisis.
This can help if:
you’ve been having thoughts of suicide
you feel overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts
you’re feeling really down.
Why do I need a safety plan?
Sometimes when you’re feeling really low, it can seem like there’s nothing you can do to make yourself feel better. It can also feel incredibly overwhelming, and it may be difficult to think straight or to ignore suicidal thoughts.
By having a safety plan, you’re making sure that when you do feel really low or that you want your life to end, there are strategies you can use to keep yourself safe.
Think of your safety plan as your ‘mental health first-aid kit’; it includes many different things that will help you through a crisis. Having a safety plan can help you feel more in control when everything feels out of control.
How do I make a safety plan?
The best kind of safety plan is one that can help give you some perspective when you’re feeling low and considering suicide. beyondblue has developed a step-by-step guide to creating a safety plan. There’s even an option to download an app to help.
There are lots of factors to consider when writing a safety plan, and certain questions you should ask yourself. These are:
When should I use this plan?
Write down triggers for thoughts of suicide, including situations, thoughts or feelings. If you know there are certain triggers or warning signs that you can recognise, when you’re more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, you can prepare to use your safety plan at these times.
Examples: ‘When I’m having thoughts of suicide, I stop answering calls from my friends.’ ‘Suicidal thoughts are triggered when I’m reminded of abuse I’ve experienced.’
What can I do to comfort myself if I’m feeling suicidal?
Create a list of things you can do that are soothing and will make you feel safe and protected when you’re upset.
Example: listening to music, going for a walk, playing guitar, baking a cake, having a warm shower.
What are my reasons for living?
Create a list of your reasons for living. These reasons are different for everyone and may only make sense to you, but that’s okay. The importance of writing this list is so that you can remember why it’s worth staying alive.
Example: my partner, my best friend, my family, my pet, my faith.
Who can I talk to?
Compile a list of contacts who will help you if you’re feeling down and need someone to talk to. It’s even worth asking people if you can add them to your list of people to call if you’re feeling like you can’t cope and having thoughts of suicide.
Include names, phone numbers and other relevant contact information. Make the list as long as you like, so that if your first contact isn’t available, you have others to call instead.
Example: a parent, a friend, your partner, your pastor/priest/minister, a trusted teacher.
Who can I contact for professional help?
It’s also worthwhile to create a list of professional people who can help you with professional advice if you need it. This can include support service helplines and mental health professionals that you know. Include names, phone numbers, website addresses and email addresses if possible.
See our fact sheet 'Where to get professional help' for some more info on professionals.
How can I make my environment safe?
Plan some steps you can take to make your environment safe. This may mean securing items that you might use to hurt yourself, or removing yourself from a room or place where you feel you’re not safe, for whatever reason. It might also mean asking someone else to help you stay safe.
Examples: ‘When I feel like hurting myself, I’ll go to a place where there are people around, like a café, supermarket, library or shopping centre.’ ‘If I’m feeling suicidal, I’ll ask my best friend to hide any thing I could use to hurt myself.’