This month, we’ve discussed warning signs and how to talk to others about suicide. Now what are some ways to cope with suicidal thoughts or help our loved ones cope?
First of all, if you or a loved one are in danger of completing suicide Call 911. Emergency assistance may be needed if you feel yourself or another is in a crisis situation and are at risk of harming themselves or others. If you need to talk, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). This article is no substitute for emergency intervention or life-saving care.
Sometimes, however, we have negative thoughts and we do not feel we are in immediate danger. We can put a plan in place for those times. Here’s how to do it:
FIRST, ASK YOURSELF: WHAT PUTS YOU AT RISK?
When do you have suicidal thoughts? Are there certain situations you find triggering? Do you notice you have more negative thoughts at night? After a fight with a loved one? When work or school becomes busy? Write these things down so you can be more mindful when they occur. Maybe if you know you have a lot of tests coming up you can plan to see your therapist or do self-care activities you enjoy.
MAKE A LIST.
List some things you like to do when you feel overwhelmed. These shouldn’t be hard to do, something accessible to you in the moment you’re having suicidal thoughts. This could be something to distract, like reading a book or watching your favorite episode of your favorite tv show (I personally love the episode of The Office where Michael burns his foot). Something to relax, like taking a walk with your dog, doing a five-minute breathing meditation, or something you just genuinely enjoy doing, like going to the gym, talking with your best friend, writing poetry, or snuggling up with a furry friend.
IDENTIFY SOME WAYS TO KEEP YOURSELF PHYSICALLY SAFE.
Do you need to lock up or get rid of medicine in the medicine cabinet? Maybe you need to remove yourself from your house or another location you feel is unsafe? Do you need a friend to come spend time with you until these suicidal thoughts pass? Create a list specific to you.
WHO ARE PEOPLE TO CALL?
List family members, friends, or others and their phone numbers. Identify one person as your crisis contact. Notify them when you make your safety plan that they are your crisis contact. Again, if you feel you or a loved one are in immediate danger: call 911.
WHAT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING?
The final step is listing out some things that are important in life. This could be people you love, things you want to accomplish, things you love about your life or yourself.
Once you’ve finished, place your safety plan somewhere visible so you can easily access it when you feel yourself start to have negative or suicidal thoughts. If there is anything not listed here you want to add to your plan, feel free to do so! This is a personal coping plan and should benefit you in any way you feel necessary. If you feel these thoughts are pervasive and you are able to seek services, counseling is a great resource to learn coping skills and how to deal with triggers in your life. Remember, you are loved, and life is worth living.