DrDan’s Toolkit – Safety Plans: Steps

I’ve been writing about the Safety Plan as a brief suicide intervention, Tear up that no-harm/no-suicide contract and The Safety Plan Initiative, and how it is an improvement over the no-harm/no-suicide contract.

The Safety Plan consists of 6 steps:

          Recognition of warning signs

          Internal coping strategies

          Socialization strategies for distraction and support

          Social contacts for assistance in resolving suicidal crises

          Professional and agency contacts to help resolve suicidal crises

          Means restriction

For a copy of the Safety Plan form or for the manual, go to suicidesafetyplan.com and request access.  The Safety Plan form is also included in the manual, along with ‘brief instructions’ which are very helpful.  The manual is for the VA, but can be used in any setting.

Two points about the Safety Plan.  First, it can be completed either on paper, as referenced above, or there are at least 2 apps available for smartphones or tablets.  Due to the ease of use and the fact that most people carry their phones everywhere these days, I recommend the app version.

The 2 apps are named MY3 and Safety Plan.  Both are free and available from the Apple app store or Google Play.

The second point is the Safety Plan can be completed by the patient or client themselves or with a healthcare professional.  My recommendation is for the latter, as the healthcare professional can assist with brainstorming recommendations to complete the 6 steps, as you’ll see as we explore these steps in future blogs.

Next time, we’ll look at the first step of the Safety Plan: recognition of warning signs.

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