Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for individuals age 10-34, and the tenth overall cause of death in the United States (based on 2014 data). Despite the high prevalence of suicide, it remains a taboo topic for many groups. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please seek help.
Oftentimes when suicide or self-harm is discussed in therapy, the client and therapist will come up with a safety plan for the individual. The suicide prevention lifeline has a template you may follow to come up with a safety plan. You can see that template by clicking here.
Throughout my time in therapy, I have had occasion to complete multiple safety plans. I am going to share an example of one of them below. It is best to complete your safety plan when you are not in crisis, and to keep a copy somewhere that is easily accessible. If you have a close family member or friend, it is also a good idea to share your safety plan with them. Please keep in mind, what I have written below is simply an example, and everyone should come up with their own plan.
Warning Signs a crisis may be developing:
- Racing or slowed thoughts.
- Feeling fearful or impending doom.
- Obsessive thoughts of wanting to harm myself.
Things I can do on my own to distract myself:
- Get out of the house (take a walk, go to a coffee shop, or retail therapy, for example)
- Play with my cats
People and/or social setting which provide distraction:
- Significant other
- Coffee shop or store
People I can contact for help:
- Significant other
- Crisis hotline
Making Environment Safe (Proactively):
- Keep meds locked in a safe box
- Keep alcohol out of the home
As always, if in doubt, contact a professional. If you don’t know how to find a therapist, you can read about it here. Stay strong and remember that depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. are not weaknesses, they are illnesses. No one chooses to have a mental illness, but you can choose not to stigmatize it for yourself and for others.