If I have a plan, I can use all the strategies I have and have hope
What is a personal safety plan?
A personal safety plan allows you to keep a record of the things you can do and the people you can contact to keep yourself safe if you’re experiencing distress.
If you’re experiencing tough times or suicidal thoughts, the plan can help distract you, keep you safe or remind you who to reach out to for help or support.
A personal safety plan covers the following areas:
- Recognising what’s happening (warning signs). Naming feelings, thoughts or behaviours that can lead to risky behaviours.
- My reasons to live. Listing what makes you feel good or things that are important to you.
- Keeping safe. Advice for making your environment safer or knowing when to remove yourself from an unsafe situation.
- What can I do by myself? Things you can do to distract yourself from unsafe thoughts (without contacting someone else).
- Who can I connect with? Listing trusted whānau or friends who you can connect with to help lift your mood, or thinking of safe places where you can be around other people.
- My supporters. Naming and listing contact details of supportive whānau, friends or health professionals who can offer help during tough times.
The plan also includes helplines and other sources of support that you can contact for assistance.
A personal safety plan can be completed when you’re feeling calm, and with someone to help support you. This may be a trusted friend or whānau member or a counsellor or health worker.
Research has shown that having a personal safety plan can be useful to help manage feelings and emotions that may be overwhelming. It can also reduce the intensity of suicidal thoughts and increase people’s ability to cope with them.
I have walked people through this plan and they have gone from feeling helpless to feeling like they can cope and there is hope.
Below are some safety plans you may like to order for free or download.
Personal safety plan
Manawa - my own survival plan app
Worried about someone?
If you're worried that someone might be thinking about suicide, don't be afraid to ask them directly.
If someone has thoughts or feelings about suicide, it's important to take them seriously. It can be hard to tell someone you care about that you are feeling suicidal. If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, thank them for telling you, and invite them to keep talking with you. Let them know there is help available. Encourage them to get help and talk to someone about what they are going through.
If you think someone may be suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.
- Asking about suicide will not put the thought in their head.
- Ask them directly about their thoughts of suicide and what they are planning. If they have a specific plan, they need help right away. Call 111, contact the crisis helplines or your GP.
- Remove any obvious means of suicide they might use (e.g rope, pills, guns, car keys, knives).
- Ask them if they would like to talk about what’s going on for them with you or someone else. They might not want to open up straight away, but letting them know you are there for them is a big help.
- Listen and don’t judge. Take them seriously and let them know you care.
- Support them to access professional help, like a doctor or counsellor, as soon as possible. Offer to help them make an appointment and go with them if you can.
- Help them to find and access the support they need from people they trust: friends, whānau, kaumātua, religious, community or cultural leaders, or health professionals.
- Don't leave them alone – make sure someone stays with them until they get help. If they don't get the help they need the first time, keep trying.
- Ask them if they would like your help explaining what they need to a professional.