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Suicide prevention: What does the evidence show for the effectiveness of safety planning for children and young people? – A systematic scoping review

Abbott-Smith, Susan; Ring, Nicola; Dougall, Nadine; Davey, Jill



Suicide is a leading cause of death for children and young people and its prevention is a global priority. Many Mental Health Services employ safety planning as a brief intervention. There is some evidence of safety planning effectiveness for adults, but little is known about its effectiveness with young people.

To synthesize research reporting safety planning effectiveness for children/young people with suicidal ideation and identify good practice recommendations.

Inclusion criteria
The review relates to safety planning around suicide prevention for children/young people aged less than 18 years, even if it was within a wider intervention. The review was inclusive of all clinical areas (including mental health, primary care, etc), any geographical location or social economic status and inclusivity around the method of delivery.

A systematic scoping review of literature reporting effectiveness data for the use of safety planning with children/young people with suicidal ideation. The systematic scoping review protocol (pre-registered with Open Science Framework) followed Joanna Briggs Institute conduct guidance and PRISMA-ScR checklist.

Data analysis and presentation
Fifteen studies were reported during 2008–2021. Overall, there is promising, but limited, evidence of effectiveness for safety planning for children/young people but with complete evidence gaps for some demographic sub-groups. Evidence determined that healthcare professionals should deliver a safety planning intervention that is completed collaboratively, developmentally appropriate, and recognizes parental/carer involvement.

Discussion and implications for practice
Further research is needed but current evidence suggests safety planning should be a routine part of care packages for children/young people with suicidal ideation proportionate to their needs. Developing/implementing these plans needs bespoke health professional training and additional support and resources for parents/carers should be developed.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 13, 2023
Online Publication Date Apr 13, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Mar 30, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2023
Print ISSN 1351-0126
Electronic ISSN 1365-2850
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 5
Pages 899-910
Keywords children and young people, safety planning, suicide prevention


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