If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to have a plan for times you might feel alone or like there’s nothing you can do. By making a safe plan and having it ready, you can take care of yourself when things get tough. But since your safety is the most important thing, don’t hesitate to call the people who are trained to help if it ever feels like you’re really in crisis.
- You feel suicidal
- You think about killing yourself
- You get really depressed
- You feel overwhelmed
- You feel like you can’t go on
Why do I need a safe plan?
Sometimes when you’re feeling really low it can feel like there’s nothing you can do to make yourself feel better. It can also feel incredibly overwhelming and can be difficult to get your thoughts straight. By having a safe plan, you’re making sure that in times when you do feel really low or like you want your life to end, there are a couple of strategies you can use to keep yourself safe.
Think of your safe plan as your mental health first aid kit; it has many different things in it that will help you through a crisis and feel in control when everything feels out of control.
Making a safe plan
The best kind of safe plan is one that can give you perspective and a feeling of support when you’re feeling low and considering suicide.
There are lots of factors to consider when writing a safe plan, and certain questions you should ask yourself. These are:
When should this plan be used?
In this part of your safe plan, you should write down what types of situations, thoughts or feelings might cause you to feel suicidal. If you know there are certain triggers or warning signs you can recognise when you’re feeling suicidal it is worth writing them down, so you can refer back to them when deciding to use your safe plan.
Example: “When I’m feeling suicidal, I stop answering calls from my friends” or “Suicidal thoughts are triggered when I am 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 are 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 ok. 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?
Hold onto a list of contacts that will help you if you are feeling down and need someone to talk to. It is even worth asking people if they don’t mind being on your list of people to call if you are feeling like you can’t cope.
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 counsellor, your pastor/priest/minister, your teacher.
Who can I talk to for professional help?
It is 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 health professionals that you know. Include names, phone numbers, website address and email addresses if possible.
Example: Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Lifeline (13 11 14), your doctor, your psychologist, your psychiatrist.
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 use 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 are not safe for whatever reason. It might also mean asking someone else to help you stay safe.
Example: “When I feel like hurting myself, I will 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 knives or scissors in the kitchen”
What to do if I still don’t feel safe
Have a plan of action for when none of the above plans make you feel any better. If you don’t feel like you can help yourself any further, call emergency services on ‘000’ in Australia, or go to your nearest hospital emergency department where they will be able to support you in getting the help you need. Remember that you don’t have to face any of this on your own and there are heaps of people and services out there who really want to help you through these feelings.