A crisis response plan is a tool to help you in the moment if you are feeling suicidal. The best time to create a crisis plan is when you are not feeling suicidal. Crisis response plans can be created by you or anyone in your support team: friends, family, medical and mental health providers, but your consent is super important.
Who Is On Your Support Team?
Medical and mental health professionals (and teachers, and other public employees,)may be mandated reporters in your state. Mandated reporters are individuals who are legally required to report known or suspected abuse, neglect, physical harm, or impending harm. Mandatory reporter laws are by state, so your state may not have mandatory reporting for suicidal thoughts or actions. Most states have stricter mandatory reporting requirements for minors and vulnerable (usually elderly or disabled) adults. .
If your state mandates reporting for suicidal thoughts or actions, those individuals may have to contact the appropriate state departments or law enforcement agencies to report what they know about you and your situation. THIS MAY NOT BE HELPFUL OR SAFE.
After reporting, law enforcement may be required to do a “wellness” or “welfare” check. Law enforcement in general has a dismal record of making things worse when they interact with people in mental health crises. This record is worse for individuals belonging to minority groups, especially BIPOC and trans/gender diverse people.
Resource: Trans Lifeline’s Fact Sheet on Crisis Hotlines and Transgender Callers.
Some areas have programs in place that send mental health professionals rather than police to do wellness checks, and this may be safer. However, you may wish to not share your crisis response plan with mandated reporters or list other people on your crisis plan if 911/a police welfare check could be more dangerous for you.
Resource: Don’t Call The Police :a list of resources by city for alternatives to calling the police.
The parts of a crisis plan are:
- Warning signs that you are in crisis or are close to crisis.
- The skills and tools that can help you feel better (or regulate) when in crisis.
- Things that could make the crisis worse and should be avoided.
- People to reach out to for support.
- What to do in the event of an emergency.
- Who caretakers or emergency personnel should contact if you are unable to advocate for yourself or make decisions.
Keep a copy of your crisis response plan in a place where you can easily find it if you need it. Give copies to the people you want to contact if you are suicidal. There are some apps that can hold a crisis plan on your phone, but we have not reviewed them.
We have developed a crisis response planning sheet. Download a .pdf copy by signing up for our mailing list.
We list the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline on our crisis plan. It is open 24/7. You can call or text “988” or chat with them through their website. Their policy is to not contact law enforcement unless risk of harm to self or others is in progress or about to happen, or when another plan cannot be figured out.
We also include the Trans Lifeline. The Trans Lifeline is run by trans people. Their hotline is open 24/7. They will not contact law enforcement or emergency services without your consent. Their phone number is 877-565-8860.
For youth, we also include the Trevor Project Lifeline. You can call, chat, or text. Their phone is 866-488-7386 and their text number is 678-678. They will contact law enforcement or the applicable state agencies if they suspect abuse or believe that your life or someone else’s life is directly threatened. Their policy is here: under “Disclosure to Third Parties.”
For BIPOC folks, Call Blackline is a crisis hotline which prioritizes BIPOC people. They can be called or texted at 800-604-5841. Call Blackline volunteers will not contact law enforcement.
Need an affirming mental health care provider? If you’re in one of our states, see our State-Based Resources Page for vetted providers. If you’re not in one of our states, see our Virtual Resources Page.
“Brief interventions for managing suicidal crises.” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. https://afsp.org/brief-interventions-for-managing-suicidal-crises/.