If you have experienced suicidal feelings in the past, or are still feeling low now, you may be worried that these feelings might return or get worse.
But there are steps you can take to look after and improve your general wellbeing when you're feeling low, as well as prepare for if you were to feel suicidal again:
Make a safety plan
A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step-by-step at times when you may be thinking about suicide.
Your safety plan might include:
- recognising your warning signs
- details of your own coping strategies – what has helped in the past and what you can do to help yourself now
- the names and contact details of loved ones or telephone support services who can help in a crisis
- the names and contact details of professionals or agencies you can contact during crisis
- steps on making your environment safe and details of a safe place you can go to if you need
Try to make a plan when you are well or able to think clearly about what you find helpful. You might want to complete the plan with a trusted friend or therapist and give them a copy to keep.
I tried to plan for feeling really bad, knowing that I could become incapable of controlling my feelings for a while. It hurts to not trust yourself but it does pass and I am so glad to be here still.
You can find safety plan templates online, like this one from the Students Against Depression website and this leaflet from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
|Is a safety plan the same as a crisis plan?
A safety plan focuses on what you can do now to keep yourself safe.
A crisis plan or joint crisis plan (agreed jointly between you and any mental health professionals as part of your care programme approach) also focuses on what has helped to keep you safe in the past, but is more detailed. It also covers what treatment you would like to receive if necessary, and whether you've made an advance statement or decision.
You can read more about crisis plans here.
Learn to manage difficult feelings
- Take each day at a time. There might be good days and bad days. Try to focus on each day at a time and set yourself small, achievable goals.
- Develop coping strategies that work for you. Self-help resources, such as Mood Juice, can help you to work through difficult feelings and learn coping skills.
- Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Supressing your feelings when they happen can cause them to build up over time and make them even harder to cope with. Think about what caused you to feel suicidal and share this with those supporting you.
- Make a happy box. Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down. The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you, for example: a favourite book, positive quotes, photos, letters, poems, notes to yourself, a cuddly toy, a perfume or smell important to you.
- Learn your triggers. Keeping a diary can help you to find patterns in your mood over time and help you to think about what might be causing you to feel suicidal. You can track your feelings by using an online mood diary (there are many freely available).
- Don't blame yourself. Many people who have tried or thought about taking their life feel guilty afterwards, especially if they have worried loved ones. Try to accept that was just how you were feeling at the time, and focus your energy now on looking after yourself.