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Help your Teen Create a Suicide Safety Plan

Help your Teen Create a Suicide Safety Plan

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Hannah_RO

Help your Teen Create a Suicide Safety Plan

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Hey there!

Having concerns about suicide for your teen can be extremely worrying. As a parent, you play an important role in supporting your teen who might be having thoughts of suicide, or like their mental health is spiralling out of control. You might be wondering, what are some of the things you can do to support them? To get started, know the warning signs of suicide and where you can go for help. If you’ve noticed your teen is displaying signs that they may be considering suicide, it’s important to have a conversation about suicide. If your teen tells you that they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s super important to ensure that you get them help that they need. 

What can you do next? 

Help your teen create a safety plan! When things start to feel like they are out of control for your teen, it can be extremely helpful to be prepared ahead of time, and to have a plan of the next steps to take to keep them safe. A safety plan is a document that maps out your teen’s mental health needs and guides them through their coping strategies when their mental health starts to spiral. It’s all about what works for your teen, so it should contain any information that might be useful to them or the people in their life when things are getting out of control. Some things to consider including in a safety plan are: 

  • Identifying your warning signs
  • Making your environment safe
  • Reminders of the reasons for living
  • Family and friends you can reach out to
  • Professional support 
  • Crisis support lines

Once you’ve helped your teen brainstorm some things to include in their safety plan, encourage them to hand-write or type it up, save a copy on their devices, or print out some copies to have in the places they’d be most helpful. 

It’s also a great idea to encourage your teen to consider who they might like to share their safety plan with. Sharing the plan with supportive people in their life might help those people know how they can help. For some, safety plans are really personal, so if it’s something your teen prefers to keep private, that is completely fine too!

To get started on helping your teen create their safety plan, check out this article. Also check out Sue’s story here about how she and her daughter Chloe worked through Chloe’s mental health challenges together, for some inspiration! 

We would love to hear about your thoughts and questions below!

Parent/Carer Community Champion
Birdwings

Re: Help your Teen Create a Suicide Safety Plan

Thanks very much for posting this, Hannah. I've looked into putting together a safety plan when things have been tough for my teens but it's slipped off my radar lately and it's a timely reminder. A friend of mine was found deceased last week. Cause of death hasn't been established but long term chronic depression which was resistant to medication is the indirect or direct cause. One of the interesting things which cropped up in the aftermath was that I'd only ever heard his story through his eyes and thought the depression had been triggered by a few serious life events. However, I was about to talk to a really long term friend and it's been with him for a very long time back to being a young person. He did make several attempts to restart his life but then withdrew. A group of us still checked in on him and kept in touch. Talking to him about a safety plan particularly when he was young sounds constructive. Having that reason for living somewhere concrete so that when you're not in the best frame of mind, it's there. What I also like about that too, is that it's them helping themselves giving reasons to live. It's not someone else wracking their brain trying to think of something under enormous stress and maybe missing the mark. I think this could be something many of us should look into for ourselves. That way if suicidal thoughts cross our mind, we're well prepared.
Best wishes,
Birdwings
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Taylor-RO

Re: Help your Teen Create a Suicide Safety Plan

Hi @Birdwings, thank you for sharing. We are sorry to hear about your loss and the difficulties that your friend faced throughout their life. Mental health difficulties can be a lifelong battle for some people and it can have such a massive impact on their life. You're right, safety planning with younger people is worth doing as it can teach them ways to regulate their emotions and how to cope when things are really tough. And yes, anyone (younger or older) can use a safety plan. It is handy to have a safety plan written down somewhere because when you are feeling distressed or down, you might be unlikely to reflect or recall on that type of information. I really love the part about 'warning signs' because it is a really good place to start, although they can be hard to recognise at first! And such a good point about it coming from the person themselves - this is a very key component! The information has to be really relevant to the person using the plan to have the most significant impact. You mentioned that this is a timely reminder for you - how do you plan to put safety planning back on your radar again?

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