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If You’ve Ever Had Suicidal Thoughts, Make a Safety Plan [video]

suicidesafetyplan307If you could write something down that might one day save your life, would you?

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in September found that when patients who visited the emergency department for suicide-related concerns were given a safety plan at discharge as well as follow-up phone calls, it reduced the odds of suicidal behavior by half.

Suicidal feelings come and go,” Barbara Stanley, lead author of the study, said in a video for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We also know that if somebody resists making a suicide attempt that they don’t necessarily have to go on and make a suicide attempt later – that the urges can dissipate.”

Listen to Dr. Stanley talk about the value of a safety plan in this short video:

To develop a suicide safety plan:

Sit down with someone you trust

It’s ideal to create your safety plan with a mental health professional, but if you’re not under the care of a clinician, you can turn to a trusted friend or family member.

Identify your personal warning signs

The warning signs listed on your safety plan should be specific to you. They are the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that may lead to you feeling suicidal.

Find ways to distract yourself

Since thoughts of suicide typically come and go, it’s important to find ways to distract yourself when they emerge.

Make your environment safe

It’s important that if you have thoughts of suicide, you reduce access to lethal means. Ask a family member to safely store medications, or have a friend hold the key to your firearm box.

Turn to people you trust

It’s important to identify people in your life who can help keep you safe. Write their names and contact information down on your plan, so you can easily reach them when you need to.

Make more than one copy

You shouldn’t be the only one with access to your safety plan. Give copies to everyone you list on your plan, so they can be proactive. Let people know you may need to reach them, and don’t be afraid to be explicit about the specific things they can do to help you.

Include the professionals

Your friends and family are important supports, but you should include emergency contacts on your plan who can help if your feelings escalate. This can include your therapist, primary care physician, local mobile crisis line, 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Keep updating it

As things in your life change, your safety plan should, too. If you’ve lost touch with one of the people on your call list, make sure to add another trusted support. If you’ve found a new reason to stay alive, include it.

Remember, you’re not alone

When you’re in crisis, it can feel like there’s nowhere to turn. A safety plan can be a lifesaving reminder that there are people you can reach out to for support.

Read the full article in USA Today online for more information on each of the steps to creating a safety plan.

Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.

Source: USA Today | If you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts, make a safety plan, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2018/11/28/suicide-prevention-if-youve-had-suicidal-thoughts-do-safety-plan/2018051002 |© 2018 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC

A screening can help you determine if you or someone you care about should contact a mental health professional. Care Coordinators can arrange a free 30 minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert. Call or email our Care Coordinators at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Consultation appointment.

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