When a loved one is struggling with their emotions and you are concerned for their safety, creating a safety plan is a great resource for both of you to have. A safety plan is a resource-based to-do list that identifies protective steps the person who is struggling and his or her significant others are willing and able to undertake. It will contain a series of gradually escalating steps that you will follow, proceeding from one step to the next, until you are safe.
When creating a safety plan, there are a few tips you should consider:
- Work with someone you trust, such as a best friend, family member, or your doctor or therapist. It is best to include them in the planning stages as they will most likely be called upon when your safety plan comes into action.
- Try to create the safety plan when you are feeling well and thinking clearly.
- Keep a hard copy of the safety plan so you can access it when a crisis situation occurs.
The first step of the safety plan is to identify warning signs that a crisis might be developing. These are feelings, moods, or behaviors that would warn you to act on your safety plan. After that, you will identify coping strategies, people and social settings that can provide distraction, people who you can ask for help, and professionals you can reach out to. Finally, identify what steps you can take to make yourself safe. This may involve removing or securing any items that you are likely to use to hurt yourself or going to another location until the urges have passed. It may also involve getting another person involved to help you.
While you will likely have your safety plan in your home, there are now smartphone safety plan applications which you can take with you anywhere. These apps may be of particular benefit for younger people and those in regions where crisis support options are lacking. For a template to create your own safety plan, click here.
Kailey Kocourek, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation, http://www.thekimfoundation.org/
Kailey Kocourek joined The Kim Foundation in July 2018 as the Project Coordinator. She coordinates the Metro Area LOSS Team and provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention education in the community. Prior to that, she worked for a local nonprofit organization developing programs to improve access to health care for the underserved. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UNO in Public Health in 2015 and is currently working towards her Master’s in Public Health from UNMC, expecting to graduate in May 2019. She was drawn to the nonprofit world because of her passion for helping and educating others. She is an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, and the Nebraska State Health Improvement Plan’s Depression and Suicide Health Priority group.