If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net

What Is a Safety Plan?

An overview of a safety plan, its use, and who can/should create one, as well as strategies and tips for completing a safety plan with someone who is at risk for suicide.

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Download the "Safety Plan" Template

Use this template to develop a safety plan before or during a suicidal crisis.


What Is a Safety Plan?

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about safety planning.   

  • Who should have a Safety Plan?
  • What is a Safety Plan?
  • How do I create a Safety Plan?

A Safety Plan can support Veterans and their loved ones

Veterans who are thinking about harming themselves or who have attempted suicide should create and keep a safety plan. It is important for the Veteran’s family members and loved ones to have a copy of the safety plan so they know what to do and where to get help in a crisis.

Make a plan to deal with crisis

A safety plan is a written list of coping strategies and sources of support that at-risk Veterans can use before or during a suicidal crisis. The plan should be brief, easy to read, and in the Veteran’s own words. A safety plan should also be easily accessible to the Veteran and selected family members and friends at all times.

How to develop a safety plan 

Safety planning is a collaborative process. Veterans who are at risk for suicide should work with a loved one, trusted adviser, clinician, VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator, or other mental health professional to create a plan that is right for them.

Safety plans should include the following elements:

  • Descriptions of specific experiences, stressors, or other factors that trigger the Veteran’s thoughts of suicide
  • Strategies the Veteran uses to deal with stressful situations, for example: “When I get home after a bad day at work, I spend time with a loved one to try to distract me from negative feelings about my job or just go for a walk to cool down.”
  • A list of the Veteran’s contacts for social support — those who should have a copy of the plan
  • Contact information for emergency professional help and care providers
  • Ways to limit access to lethal means, such as weapons and ammunition or large quantities of medication


Download this template to help you develop an effective safety plan for use before or during a suicidal crisis.