If you are someone who struggles with suicidal pain, it is crucial that you take some time to write down a series of steps that you can turn to if you are in danger of acting on these suicidal thoughts. Mental health professionals call these steps a safety plan.
Create your safety plan ahead of time, while you are in a more rational state of mind. Then, when your suicidal thoughts and feelings threaten to push you over the edge, rather than acting impulsively on them, you will have steps to take to stay safe. Following your safety plan will allow you to “turn down the volume” of your suicidal pain and make it bearable until the crisis passes.
When I cook, I like to use recipes because they provide step-by-step instructions to follow to produce a delicious meal. I think of my safety plan as “a recipe to keep on living.” If I am on the verge of acting on my suicidal thoughts, I just reach for my safety plan and do exactly what’s written on it. I don’t have to figure out how to proceed in the heat of the moment–I have everything I need to stay safe planned out ahead of time.
The goal is to take the edge off the pain of your current crisis so that you can better tolerate your distress. See Reducing Pain for a series of coping skills.
Here are some coping strategies that are taken from my own safety plan:
You will also want to have the phone numbers of your local or national crisis lines. Here is Wikipedia’s list of these lines.
Using the Safety Plan Form take some time to create your own personalized safety plan. Think about the strategies and activities that will best keep you safe. Consider asking your therapist, friends, or family members for their ideas as you create your safety plan.
Once you have written your plan, make several copies and put them in places in your environment that are easy to locate. Find ways to carry it with you, such as by writing it in your phone, on a 5 x 7 card, or on the back of a business card for your wallet. Give a copy of your plan to your support people or anyone else who wishes to help you survive a suicidal crisis.