What to do in a crisis

Crisis Plan

There may be times when you are feeling so low, or so anxious that life can feel like it is not worth living. Suicidal thoughts and ideas are not uncommon amongst those who suffer from depression, or are having difficult life experiences. Usually, by talking these thoughts and feelings through with a compassionate other, or writing them down, these feelings do pass.  Distracting yourself with other things can also be helpful.

However, for some people, sometimes these thoughts can develop into an actual plan to end their life, or to seriously harm themselves. It is important to plan for a crisis so that you and those close to you know how to get help when it is most needed.

Suicidal thoughts can be very common when feeling down, distressed, panicky, anxious, worried or depressed.  When your depression has lifted, or when the difficult time has settled, these thoughts will lessen.

At these distressing times it is vital to consider a plan so you can keep alive and safe until these thoughts cause you less distress. It is important to complete this plan when you are not feeling actively suicidal, and involve at least one other who can support you with your plan, should a time arise when you feel you may act on your suicidal thoughts.  This person should also have a copy of this plan.

What to do in a crisis

When feeling down, despairing, anxious or depressed, it is common to feel as if the only way out is to die.  If you find that your thoughts of death or of seriously harming yourself are getting worse, to the point of you taking some action, there is always help 24 hours per day.  Here are some helpful phone numbers, but remember, if you really feel you are going to take action you can go to, or ask someone else to take you to the local Accident & Emergency department in your area, where a professional can help you to manage the crisis.

When feeling suicidal you may notice that you have dark, gloomy thoughts; these thoughts lower your mood, and your behaviour may change so that you withdraw from family, friends or activities.

A good way to stop these thoughts from going round and round is to use distraction; distraction means taking your mind off your gloomy or suicidal thoughts by concentrating on something else.

Things that have distracted me that I have found helpful in the past:
Other distractions I could try

If you find that distraction isn’t working, and you are worried or frightened about your safety, ask yourself……..

Are the suicidal thoughts becoming more regular or persistent?
Are the thoughts becoming actual plans or preparations to die or cause myself serious self harm?
On a scale of 1-10 how likely am I to act on these plans?

If the answer is yes:-

 You now need to consider this plan you have made to keep yourself safe. 

  • Who is the first person you would contact who could help you to safety and relieve your distress? Write name and contact number:
  • Give a copy of this completed plan to the person above who has agreed to support you.
  • Tell those close to you about your suicidal thoughts, and let them know how you are feeling so that they can support you in a way that is helpful to you. What would you like them to do if you are in crisis:-
  • Have phone numbers to hand, make sure they are written on this leaflet, and stored in your mobile phone.
  • Remove items from your home that you may be able to harm yourself with – or arrange for your supportive other to do this.
  • Identify (in advance) times that might be difficult e.g. significant anniversaries of loss, etc. Talk to your family/loved ones or GP in advance of these dates.
  • Difficult situations or times that I can identify:
  • Warning signs that a crisis may occur; What signs do I notice in myself?
  • Write down the name and number of your GP here
  • Write down the telephone number and address of your local A&E department here


Who to contact if you need urgent support

If you feel like harming or hurting yourself or other people:

  • Call 999
  • Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department (A&E). You can search for your local department through the NHS Choices website

For non-emergency situations:

  • Visit your GP

Call NHS 111 (NHS Direct) – open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can tell you about your local crisis support services or your nearest A&E.
Tel: 111
Web: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Mental health services

If you are already receiving support from mental health services you should have a care plan. This will include details of who you should contact in a crisis.  

If you can’t find your care plan:

During the day
Contact your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and ask for your care co-ordinator or the person on duty.

During evenings, weekends or bank holidays
Call your local crisis team

Emotional Support

If you would like to offload or talk to someone about your problems, then you may find an emotional support line useful. Some to try are:

Offering emotional support 24 hours a day
Tel: 08457 90 90 90
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Web: www.samaritans.org

Sane Line
Offering specialist mental health emotional support 6-11pm everyday.
You can also email through their website.
Tel: 0845 767 8000
Web: www.sane.org.uk

5pm – midnight, Tue-Sat 0800 58 58 58  www.thecalmzone.net