What is known on the subject?
Suicide prevention is an international healthcare priority.
There is an urgent need to use approaches that are helpful and follow research evidence.
Safety planning is now widely used in suicide prevention; however, it was developed for use with adults, and little is known about its effectiveness for children/young people.
What the paper adds to existing knowledge?
This systematic scoping review brings together all research evidence since 2008 that reported how effective safety planning is for children/young people.
Findings highlight that when healthcare professionals help children/young people who are suicidal, they need to ensure that the safety plan is completed collaboratively with healthcare professionals and children/young people and that it is appropriate for their age and development.
There is also need for healthcare professionals to better recognize and respond to the needs of parents/carers who are caring for a child/young person with suicidal ideations/behaviours.
What are the implications for practice?
There is some research indicating that safety planning is effective for use with children/young people, but such evidence has primarily been obtained from females and there is need for more evidence from male study populations. Further research on its use is needed for certain groups of children/young people including those who are care experienced, or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
This review highlighted that healthcare professionals need specific training before they deliver safety planning for children/young people.
It was identified that parents/carers have additional needs and should be involved in safety planning. An additional resource specifically for parents/carers should be developed.
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.
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.