Practical next steps
Lesson 6 Section 1
Now it’s time to put everything together.
We’re going to do something called safety planning. That basically means writing down some ideas for what to do in a suicidal crisis situation... before you're in a crisis.
Ready for some good news?
If you've been using the worksheets in this mini-course then you’ve already done almost all of the work for this!
“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst,
and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst would happen.
- Kay Redfield Jamison
How to turn stabilizing into safety planning
The worksheets in this mini-course have prepared you for safety planning.
Because you've worked through each step you're going to have a personal and thoughtful plan that has been developed in the context of moving forward after a suicidal crisis. I hope that makes the plan more meaningful for you, easier for you to remember, and easier for you to use.
The reference below will guide you through completing a safety plan template using the information you have from the other worksheets.
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
- John F Kennedy
Resources for better planning
Doing the NowMattersNow (NMN) Plan? Open this section for tips using the worksheets from prior lessons
Here are a few extra tips for how the worksheets in this mini-course fit with the NowMattersNow.org (NMN) plan:
- Go back to the "BreakSheet" in Lesson 2 (Procrastinate). You circled the easiest thing to get in a list of personal favorites for each of your five senses.
Transfer that list of circled items into the section on what to do "if you feel an overwhelming urge to kill yourself."
Transfer the remaining items into the later section on "what do you usually do to cope?"
- Go back to the worksheet in Lesson 1 (Pause). If you have a suicide plan then on page 1 you thought about the method you would use and how to make it more difficult to use.
Additional ideas for making your situation safer can be found in the NMN plan under "safe storage." You can put those together with what you already considered for safeguards. Transfer the more complete plan about the method into the section on "thinking ahead."
- On page 2 of the worksheet in Lesson 1 (Pause) you thought about who you would trust to talk to before doing anything in a suicide plan. You also listed a few people who might be supportive on the worksheet in Lesson 5 (Choice).
Additional ideas for who to consider for both of those worksheets can be found in the NMN plan under "Who will fight fire with you?". You can put any new ideas together with people you already thought of to complete that section.
- In Lesson 4 (Reasons) you completed a wishlist of reasons to keep living and also thought about reasons for not dying. You can choose the most meaningful reasons from both categories to include in the NMN section on "thinking ahead." [This is logic, not research (yet), but if you have a method that is stored or locked up then consider attaching one or more photos of your reasons for not dying onto the box/container.]
- The NowMattersNow.org plan and website provide guidance about learning and practicing specific coping skills that help with intense emotions. You can combine those skills and the ideas you put on the "BreakSheet" in Lesson 2 (Procrastinate) to have an excellent set of options to help you calm down if you're in distress.
Why plan? (Click the sections below to open more information)
Honestly, I think creating a crisis plan is a royal pain, but it’s also one of the most useful things I’ve done for my own care and it’s been extremely useful to have when I’ve had to help someone else.
It’s not fun to think through what started a crisis or what to do in a crisis. On the other hand, it has been beyond frustrating to have to search for phone numbers or try to explain to someone what helps me while I was in crisis. That's why I go back and update my plan when I'm feeling ok enough to do that, and it's why I took the extra time to complete the WRAP version of the crisis plan that I mentioned above.
Having a good plan comes in handy. It’s easier for the person trying to help me, it’s easier for me, and it makes it much more likely that I’ll get the help and support I would prefer.
The Safety Planning Intervention is an evidence-based approach for helping people prepare for crisis that has been adopted in many settings including crisis call centers. It is recommended as part of standard care for every healthcare setting.
As noted in the report on standard care by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, "Action steps may include calming activities, identifying supportive people to talk to and providing contact information for crisis call or text lines." Those action steps match the worksheets included in this course.
The report on standard care also states that "lethal means reduction is a crucial part of safety planning. It involves identifying possible means of self-harm that are available to the individual (especially ones they may have considered...) and reducing access by taking specific steps." The consideration of possible suicide method in the worksheet for Lesson 1 (Pause) and then again here in Lesson 6 are directly in line with that recommendation.
The version of safety planning found at NowMattersNow.org includes guidance based on research by Dr. Ursula Whiteside and skills taught as part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a very successful suicide prevention approach. The additional recommendation of WRAP is also an evidence-based practice that has been used in both self-help and peer-help programs.