Suicide is a leading cause of premature death and, despite significant investment, the prevalence rate has remained relatively stable for more than a decade. Theoretically, the use of ‘safety planning’ as a response to suicidality likely maintains suicide as a potential solution for vulnerable people. This paper describes a theoretically-supported paradigm shift from safety planning to ‘coping planning’ to improve patient outcomes and improve the confidence and competence of clinicians working with people with suicidality.
Coping planning is a strategy used to support people with acute distress. Its components of ‘caring’, ‘collaborating’ and ‘connecting’ reinforce existing strengths, promote self-efficacy and link people with more intensive supports, as needed. Coping planning overcomes the limitations of existing approaches. It reframes suicide prevention from managing patients disclosing suicidality to ensuring patients have minimally sufficient temporary support to help them cope. This approach has the potential to promote coping self-efficacy and prevent deterioration that leads to suicide.