You can work with the person to make a safe plan to use when they need it most. This should include:
- Recognising the warning signs: e.g. very negative thoughts; sleeping a lot; feeling trapped, hopeless, overwhelmed, or numb; risk behaviours, or self-neglect.
- Identify coping strategies: an activity they enjoy or can distract them, e.g. a walk, a bath, video games, going for a drive, sport or exercise, watching TV, music.
- Identify people or distracting social settings: list places or people they can meet or get in touch with to provide a distraction. Avoid bars, pubs, nightclubs, casinos, or gambling shops.
- Identify chosen family or friends: make a list of people they can contact when they are feeling suicidal, people they can trust and feel safe talking to. Not anyone under the age of 18.
- Identify professionals who can help: e.g. GP surgery, crisis helplines, emergency services, NHS24.
- Make the environment safe: e.g. securely lock medications away, remove or secure lengths of rope, cable, belts, dressing gown cords if necessary from the home and garden, prevent access to firearms.
Helping to make a safe plan isn't the only way you can support someone with thoughts of suicide; you can also listen carefully to them, showing kindness and compassion, and you can signpost them to further sources of support.