All suicidal plans or attempts are extremely serious no matter the means. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in our state. When we talk about suicide, it’s important to not only ask ‘why,’ but also to think about ‘how.’ The means that someone can use to hurt or kill themselves can often make a large difference in the lethality of an attempt. For example, firearms are used in suicides more than every other method combined. Likewise, most non-fatal self-harm or suicide attempts involve overdosing or poisoning, whereas only 1% of non-fatal suicide attempts involve a firearm.
Studies have shown that when someone attempts to kill themselves, the act is sometimes based on a relatively short-lived, impulsive, and acute crisis. If reducing or restricting the means increases the time that it would take for someone to kill themselves, then there is a significant chance that the suicidal thoughts and feelings will subside. Once someone is suicidal, they don’t necessarily remain imminently suicidal. Having a means (especially a firearm) readily available dramatically increases the chance that the suicidal person will go through with their plan.
Learn More about Means Restriction
Safety planning is a process of developing a prioritized written list of coping strategies and sources of support for individuals in crisis or at risk of suicide. The plan should be brief, in original wording, and easy to read. We suggest that a safety plan is developed with the help of trusted person.
- How will I know I should use this safety plan?
- What do I experience when I start to think about suicide or feel extremely depressed?
- List my warning signs (thoughts, images, thinking processes, mood, and/or behaviors)
For a person considering suicide or self harm, reduce access to means as soon as possible. For more information on means restriction, see above.
- Identify a trusted person to assist in the restriction of means.
- Remove methods that are primarily for suicide or self harm - such as firearms, ammunition, large amounts of medications or other poisons, ropes, knives, or razors.
- Make other methods as difficult to access as possible - for example, move medications to an out of the way area so it takes several actions to get to them (lock them in a separate room, a locked box, or let a trusted person manage them for the duration of suicidal thoughts).
When I am feeling distressed, before I take any action to hurt or kill myself:
Things I can do for myself, that have helped in the past
- Focusing on here and now activities - such as petting my dog or cat
- Soothing activities - such as a relaxation technique, listening to music, aromatherapy candles or soaps
- Physical activities
- Distracting activities - such as reading, watching a comedy, doing a puzzle
- Expressive activities - such as journaling, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, writing poetry
- Being around people - such as go to coffee shop
"My people" to reach out to (please talk to these individuals in advance to inform them of being added to the plan):
- List 2 Friends and their phone numbers
- List 2 Family members and their phone numbers
- If part of a faith community, list the contact person's name and phone number
- If part of a 12-step group, list sponsor's name and phone number
- If part of other support groups, list contact person's name and phone number
My mental health supports to use after trying at least 5 of the above:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis service of my mental health service
- List therapist and their phone number
- List local hospital emergency department phone number
The thing that is most important to me and worth living for is:
- List here
(Adapted from the work of Drs. Barbar Stanley, Greg Brown, Aaron Beck, David Jobes, Thomas Joiner and others.)