Safety Plan Treatment Manual to Reduce Suicide Risk: Veteran Version


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Department of Veterans Affairs

The Safety Plan Treatment Manual to Reduce Suicide Risk: Veteran Version is available in the SPRC Resource Collection.


The Safety Plan Treatment Manual to Reduce Suicide Risk: Veteran Version was developed by Barbara Stanley, Ph.D., of Columbia University, and Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with VA staff. The 20-page Treatment Manual provides instructions for developing a safety plan for Veterans who are at risk for suicide. A corresponding Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians pocket card is also available. The steps outlined in the Treatment Manual and Quick Guide are recommended for use whenever a Veteran is identified as an attempt survivor, or is otherwise identified as being at high-risk for suicide. Using the Treatment Manual and Quick Guide results in a written safety plan that helps the Veteran identify:

  • Personal warning signs
  • Internal coping strategies
  • Social contacts who may distract from the crisis
  • Family members or friends who may offer help
  • Professionals and agencies to contact for help
  • Safe environments

Working groups of clinicians and others helped shape the manual and corresponding Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians into its final form.

Program Objectives

Veterans using the safety plan will improve their ability to:

  1. Recognize personal warning signs of suicide.
  2. Use internal coping strategies to reduce suicide risk.
  3. Access social and family contacts who may help reduce suicide risk.
  4. Contact appropriate professionals and agencies for help.
  5. Make their environment safer.

Implementation Essentials

  • The Safety Plan is a tool to engage the Veteran and is only one part of a comprehensive suicide care plan.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 5.3: Intervene to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors in populations with suicide risk.

Objective 6.1: Encourage providers who interact with individuals at risk for suicide to routinely assess for access to lethal means.

Objective 9.2: Develop, disseminate, and implement guidelines for clinical practice and continuity of care for providers who treat persons with suicide risk.

Objective 9.5: Adopt and implement policies and procedures to assess suicide risk and intervene to promote safety and reduce suicidal behaviors among patients receiving care for mental and/or substance use disorders.