A safety plan describes the steps that need to be taken to keep your loved one safe. It is often suggested by a treating psychologist or psychiatrist for people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviours.
The plan itself may be called a few different things depending on the treater. You may hear the plan referred to as a safety plan a risk management plan, crisis response plan or a safety management plan.
Sometimes treaters will request that you as a partner or family member participate in the development of the plan so that you know what to do when your partner is feeling suicidal.
Planning will involve sitting down together and discussing things like triggers, coping strategies and accessing help during a crisis.
When developed with input from you, your loved one and their treating team, a safety plan can be a really useful tool in a stressful time.
TRIGGERS AND COPING STRATEGIES
The plan will help your loved one identify what triggers may cause a suicidal reaction, coping strategies that help manage the reaction, what helps and what doesn’t help, and how and where to access services during a crisis.
Triggers and coping strategies are different for every person so they will be carefully chosen based on the conversation.
Triggers are different for everyone and might include:
- drinking alcohol
- anniversaries of events
Coping strategies are different for everyone and might include:
- calling a loved one
- listening to music
- doing an activity they enjoy
YOUR ROLE IN THE SAFETY PLAN
You play an important role in any plan that is developed. Not only do you have unique insights into the behaviours of your loved one that may be helpful to the planning process but you also are likely to be an important support if and when the situation arises that they are feeling suicidal so it is important you know what to do.