We’ve all heard a myriad of statistics, facts, and figures surrounding the military community and suicide. Fortunately, there are more mental health resources available than ever before. However, the issue persists, and each and every loss is a tragedy for multiple people involved. This is why it’s important to have a suicide safety plan in place. A safety plan for suicidal ideation can help prevent untimely deaths. Furthermore, it can provide individuals, and those around them, with the necessary tools for overcoming negative thoughts and actions.
Disclaimer: While having a safety plan for suicide is important, this guide helps provide resources and tools for those struggling with mental health. However, it cannot replace help from a trained professional. If you or a loved one is suffering, you can call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at any time to receive help from a trained professional. Alternatively, the 988 Lifeline Chat and Text online chat is also available. Furthermore, for the military, the Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1. Visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for professional help from someone in the military community.
Related read: New Veteran Suicide Report Shows Positive News
What is a Suicide Safety Plan?
For those at risk of becoming a danger to themselves, a suicide safety plan is a lifeline to see tomorrow. The purpose of a suicidal ideation safety plan is to help those in need have instant access to coping techniques, resources, distractions, and tips to overcome dark moments.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has put together a free-to-use suicide safety plan template that can help you or a loved one acquire the tools they need in times of crisis. Here’s what you can expect to have as a part of your suicidal ideation safety planning:
- Tips for developing your suicidal safety plan.
- Ways to identify that an issue or specific trigger might be occurring.
- Strategies to help you cope and overcome dark moments.
- Lists of people and places that can help you stay distracted from negative thoughts.
- Contacts of people and professionals to reach out to.
- Help with making your environment safe — this means framing out a plan to get rid of potentially harmful items, such as firearms or medications.
One of the most critical components of the safety plan for suicidal individuals is that while some professional or trusted loved ones can help create it, the primary creator is the potential user. This allows for a suicide safety plan that is well thought out and individually tailored to those who may need it.
Planning Can Be an Effective Mental Health Tool
When it comes to brief interventions that can make a difference in suicide prevention, the importance of suicide safety planning can’t be understated. Although time-consuming, they can be well worth the effort.
Planning reduces the risk of suicide and increases the realization of related behaviors. Your healthcare team can provide critical professional assistance and create guidelines to help you overcome negativity and live a fuller life.
How to Create a Suicide Safety Plan
If you’re going to make a plan, you’re going to need a few things. This largely includes patience; as it takes time, a support system that you can trust, and reliable resources.
The templates, such as the one listed above by the VA, make it very easy to create a plan. You’ll simply need to fill it out, and then keep it with you at all times. Many also make a backup to store on their phones, so it’s ready to go whenever and wherever it’s needed.
For those creating a suicide safety plan, congrats. This is truly an important step in protecting yourself and creating the necessary framework for a better quality of life. Be sure to share your plan with those you can trust, and remember that the world is a better place because you’re here.