Suicidal thoughts can range from fleeting to stronger urges where you imagine and start to plan how you would end your life. You may feel overwhelmed like there is no other option.

Depression can distort our thinking and lead us to focusing on negative thoughts. These negative thoughts can play in the background like a radio. Often we take them at face value, we believe them. However it is important to remember that thoughts are just that, thoughts, they are not fact.

Feelings of hopeless are not uncommon

It’s not uncommon to sometimes feel that things are hopeless. Loneliness, relationship breakdown, the loss of a loved one, financial stress and depression are just some of the things which can affect us all at some point or another. Overwhelming feelings and pain can make it appear that suicide is the only way out.

But what if there was an alternative to suicide?

What if you could express your pain and anger and find a way through the feelings of hopelessness? This is where counselling can help and the sooner you seek help the better. In the meantime, a safety plan can help keep you safe, reminding you of reasons to live, safe places to go and who you could contact. Kind of like your own ‘mental health first aid kit’ helping you feel more in control.

You may think that you would never actually act upon them, but creating a suicide safety plan is a way of looking after yourself and staying safe.

How a suicide safety plan can help

A safety plan can protect you and help you cope with distressing thoughts. The best time to write one is when you are feeling okay and can think clearly. It can help you to think in advance about how you could deal with distressing thoughts if they arise or get worse. Of course if you are already at this point, you can enlist the help of a trusted friend or professional and ask them to help you put one together. It won’t eliminate the suicidal thoughts but can help you stay safe for now and cope with the immediate crisis.

Know your warning signs so you can take action early

Thinking about changes in mood, thoughts and behaviours means you can take action early. It could be that you have trouble sleeping, stop going out to see friends or find yourself drinking or smoking more than usual. Try and be specific, listing the situations, thoughts and feelings that may lead to feeling suicidal.

List your reasons to live

This acts as a reminder of why you want to stay safe. The pain may feel unbearable causing you to lose focus. Listing your reasons to live helps to refocus your attention.

  • What is the most important thing worth living for? (e.g. children, partner, faith in God, your dog or the opportunity to get married and have children in the future)
  • What would you miss?

Who can I reach out to?

Write down their names and up to date contact details. This can include friends, family, health professionals a teacher or pastor.

What takes your mind off things and gives you comfort?

List what distracts you and gives you comfort. This could include taking a bath, reading a book, binge watching TV or creating a comfort box with favourite photographs, snuggly PJs, a favourite treat and encouraging quotes.

How could you make your environment safe?

What do you need to do to reduce the risk of yourself acting on suicidal thoughts? For example, taking surplus medication to the pharmacy, securing items which you could harm yourself with. Is there anything you need to avoid because it makes you feel worse?

What would you like to remind yourself of when you are feeling distressed?

For example, ‘I’ve got through this before and I will again’ or ‘my thoughts are not always helpful or based on fact, I don’t have to accept them’.

Apps to Check out

  • Suicide Safety Plan (iOS)
  • Stay Alive (Android)

If you still feel suicidal and don’t feel safe

  • Phone the Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment
  • If out of hours call 111
  • Go to A and E


Coping with suicidal thoughts: The Safety Plan
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