Set up a Safety Plan

If we have a sore muscle, it’s important to stretch it so it doesn’t get pulled. If we have a cold, it’s important to monitor it so it won’t turn into sickness.

Likewise, it’s important to recognize the signs of our mental health worsening so that we can deal with it before it gets to the point that we are feeling actively suicidal or wanting to harm ourselves.

What is a safety plan?

A safety plan is essentially a preparation and prevention plan. It’s a written set of guidelines you create for yourself in the event that you are feeling particularly distressed or suicidal. The goal of a safety plan is to provide you with structured steps you can work through in these moments of crisis until you are safe.

Who needs a safety plan?

Everyone’s mental health experiences challenging times, and because of this, everyone can benefit from having a safety plan. If you struggle with a mental health issue of some kind - especially with low moods or suicidal thoughts and urges - a safety plan is an important and simple measure you can take to ensure you are properly supported in case of crisis. If you do not consider yourself to be suicidal, a safety plan can be beneficial to have in the event that you ever reach this point of crisis.

Create a Safety Plan

  1. Identify your personal warning signs/symptoms.

    Everyone has specific warning signs when they’re feeling particularly depressed or suicidal. Notice what these behaviours are for you and write them down.

    e.g. overeating, no appetite, isolation, oversleeping, trouble sleeping, irritability, bailing on plans, etc.

  2. Make a list of simple things you can do to distract or take care of yourself

    Think about the things that typically help you feel better or relax. This can be as simple as brushing your teeth, doing a face mask, getting dressed, taking a shower, or doing some deep breathing. Write 5-10 of these things down.

  3. Make a list of people you can call/text/meet up with to either talk about how you’re feeling or to distract you.

    Make sure to include the phone numbers/contact info/social media of these people in your plan.

  4. Compile a list of things you are grateful for and that are important to you.

    Try to come up with a minimum of 10 things you are grateful for or that are important to you. Attach this list to your plan.

    e.g. a pet, favourite food, a special place where you enjoy spending time, important person/people in your life, favourite smell, pleasant feelings (taking a bath, hugs, warm blanket), a hobby, a video game, etc.

  5. Make a list of emergency resources.

    It’s important to have people/services that you can contact if you feel like hurting yourself. This can be family, friends, professionals, or suicide hotlines.

    For close friends or family in this list, it’s important you let them know that they are one of your emergency contacts.

    For a list of helpful hotlines/text services, visit our resources page.

  6. If you are still feeling suicidal or wanting to hurt yourself - call 911.

    Write this down on your plan!!!

    It’s a common belief that you should not call 911 if you’re feeling suicidal or unsafe to yourself, but this isn’t the case. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you’re feeling actively suicidal or wanting to hurt yourself!

    By calling 911, you’ll be put in the hands of trained professionals that will set you up with the proper care, support, and services that you need. You will not get in trouble or be locked up.

  7. Share your safety plan.

    Share your safety plan with someone! It can be a friend, family member, or therapist.

    By sharing your safety plan with someone, you’re showing them that they’re an important and trusted person in your life. You’re also helping them to better support you during these times.

  8. Find somewhere to keep your safety plan.

    Keep your safety plan somewhere you can easily access it. This could be in your wallet, on your phone, or on a bulletin board in your room.