As a trusted supporter, there are a number of ways you can help your friend or family member with their BeyondNow safety plan. We know that support from loved ones can make a real difference to someone at risk of suicide – providing encouragement, distractions from suicidal thoughts, or being there to listen when things become too much.
I've been listed in my loved one's safety plan – what do I do now?
If your friend or family member has sent you a copy of their plan or asked you to be a supporter, start by sitting down together and talking through the type of support you might be able to provide. This should be a two-way conversation – try and be clear about what you can offer, as well as what they'd like from you.
Your role might be to simply 'be there' for them. Focus on doing the social, enjoyable activities they’ve included in their plan – watching a movie, playing sport, going for a walk, or just hanging out – without trying to force them to talk about what's going on.
If they decide to share their thoughts or feelings about suicide with you, that's ok too. Your role might be to listen, acknowledge their distress and just support them the way you know best. There might be some things you're not comfortable talking about – if so, make sure you communicate that so they’re aware and can include other supporters in their plan.
Your friend or family member should have some professional support services listed in their plan, but it's also helpful if you're aware of who can help during a crisis and at what point they should be called in.
Debriefing and seeking support
If you're called on as a supporter, it might be helpful to ask your friend or family member – after things have settled down – about what worked and what you could do differently. This will help you if they need your support again in the future.
Talking with someone about suicidal thoughts can be tough, especially if you're already stressed yourself. It's important to take care of your own wellbeing, make time for the things you enjoy, and have your own support network to call on when you need it. We've got some tips to help you stay strong and resilient.
Supporting your friend or family member to create their plan
Ideally, the person should involve their health professional – either when they’re developing their plan, or by sharing it afterwards. Trusted supporters can also help by offering ideas and suggestions for the different steps.
Some people might find it difficult to complete certain parts of the plan – for example, they may not be aware of changes in their moods, or struggle to think of reasons to live or coping strategies. You can support them by making suggestions, but it’s important not to push if they’re finding it too confronting or stressful. Try sitting down when everyone’s feeling settled and brainstorm some strategies for each step.
You can also help by encouraging your friend or family member to use their safety plan if they start experiencing their warning signs or you notice changes in their behaviour.