Are the “Right” People Selected for First Disclosures About Suicidal Thoughts? Exploring What We Know About Advance Care Planning in the Context of Safety Planning

  • Anthony FulginitiEmail author
  • Laura M. Frey
Original Paper


Nominating primary confidants (i.e., safety plan nominees) is central to safety planning for suicide but there is a dearth of research about such confidants—a serious oversight given their high-leverage position to affect pathways into clinical care. Informed by advance care planning (ACP) work, this study examined differences between social network members who were and were not identified as primary confidants on attributes that could impact their effectiveness in a helping role. Using social network methodology, information was collected from 41 individuals with affective disorders about the 332 people and relationships in their networks. Logistic regression analysis revealed that being perceived as capable of managing stress and prioritizing the participant’s best interests over one’s own increased the odds of being a primary confidant. Clinicians working with suicidal individuals may benefit from integrating ACP principles—which recognize the thoughtful selection of nominees based on specific attributes—into their safety planning procedures.


Safety planning Advance care planning Social network Disclosure Suicidal communication 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Kent School of Social WorkUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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