What is a Safety Plan?

NW PA Counties graphicThe Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families. The Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians is a tool that can be used by health care providers to empower Veterans by helping them prepare for steps that can help avert a behavioral health crisis or suicidal thoughts.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about publicizing the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program in your community.
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The Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians

doctor and veteranA safety plan is a prioritized written list of coping strategies and sources of support that Veterans who have been deemed to be at high risk for suicide can use before or during a crisis. The plan is brief, easy to read, and in the Veteran’s own words. Clinicians are strongly advised to read the manual, “VA Safety Plan Treatment Manual to Reduce Suicide Risk,” and review associated video training materials at the following link:

Who Should Have a Safety Plan?

Any Veteran who has a suicidal crisis should have a comprehensive suicide risk assessment. Clinicians should then collaborate with the Veteran on developing a safety plan.

How Should You Make a Safety Plan?

Listen to, empathize with, and engage the Veteran in the process. Safety planning is a clinical process, and involving the Veteran can promote the development of the safety plan and increase the likelihood of its use.

Developing the Safety Plan

There are six steps involved in the development of a safety plan. Download the Quick Guide pdf for a printable, full-size copy.

Safety Plan for Clinicians

What are the Steps After the Plan is Developed?

ASSESS the likelihood that the overall safety plan will be used and problem solve with the Veteran to identify barriers or obstacles to using the plan.
DISCUSS where the Veteran will keep the safety plan and how it will be found during a crisis.
EVALUATE whether the format is appropriate for the Veteran’s capacity and circumstances.
REVIEW the plan periodically when the Veteran’s circumstances or needs change.

Printable Personal Safety Plans are available through our partner, Hold My Guns and SuicideSafetyPlan.com

Looking to Get Involved?

friends standing togetherWhether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at theresilientveteran.org.

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

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