How to Create a Suicide Safety Plan
Seeing the topic of suicide in the media can be difficult for some of us with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. It’s extremely hard for me to admit this, but I currently live with suicidal thoughts. My life isn’t horrible or completely unbearable; I have a spouse, two beautiful children and a great support system of friends and mental health professionals. The truth is, though, there are mornings when I don’t want to climb out of bed and nights that I stay up replaying all my shortcomings and flaws inside my head. Living with these dark thoughts isn’t easy, but after spending close to half of my life feeling this way, I have simply learned to accept, cope and prepare to prevent.
One of the most beneficial coping skills I have for dealing with my frequent suicidal thoughts is having a safety plan. A safety plan is essentially a guideline of how to stay safe during a crisis. A thorough safety plan should include details of how you identify a crisis, what coping or distress tolerance skills help ease the situation, a list of at least three people you can contact if needed and the phone numbers of your mental health professionals such as your therapist, psychiatrist or the local psychiatric hospital. It is also good to know the national hotlines that are available such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Crisis Text Line. When I was constantly in and out of crisis situations last fall, I even went one step further and had a small bag packed in my car containing clothes, important phone numbers, toiletries and a book to read if I needed to go to the hospital.
It is incredibly important to take the time to sit down with either a trusted professional or close contact to develop a plan for potential crisis situations. The plan should make sense for you and possible to follow. Having a written and accessible plan to share with anyone who may need to intervene during a crisis will further secure you. It is also important to review and update your plan periodically in case your situation changes. The other day when I needed to read over my plan for the first time in several months, I realized my initial contact person was no longer in my life.
If you are someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts, the most important thing you can do for yourself is know how to stay safe. No matter what happens, you are more than your darkness. You are worthy of life and you are not alone. We all go through times of crisis, but you can make it to the other side. Make a safety plan and try your best to follow it because you matter.
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