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Suicide: Other Things You Can Do to Help Keep Yourself Safe

Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Other things you can do to help keep yourself safe:

  • Continue to practice your newly-learned problem solving and adaptive coping skills. Go back to your psychotherapist if you need a "tune up" and you find yourself sliding backward into old, negative habits.
  • Consider joining a support group and/or using the Internet to remind yourself that you are not alone, obtain new ideas for coping with difficult times, and reach out to other people who need assistance.
  • Keep a copy of your anti-suicide plan handy. This is a great reminder list of helpful hints that you can fall back on when you are not thinking clearly.
  • Identify your triggers and develop a list of preventative strategies. For instance, if you know that the anniversary of your son's death tends to make you feel suicidal, identify ahead of time some strategies that you can use to get through this period. If these strategies don't work, keep emergency numbers handy.
  • Follow through with referrals to other resources, such as a substance abuse program or rehabilitation program to help you address addiction issues.
  • If you think you are likely to become suicidal or if you are significantly depressed and you are visiting a doctor's office, advise him or her of your condition. Ask for alternative, safer medications, or smaller-sized prescriptions so as to make it more difficult for you to use medications to harm yourself.
  • If you are suicidal and own guns, take steps to get those guns out of your house so that they cannot tempt you. If you cannot or will not surrender your guns, then remove your ammunition from your home, or at least lock everything up in a manner that makes it difficult for you to access them on a moment's notice. An impulsive suicidal urge can be put off or delayed if it is difficult to reassemble the necessary gun.
  • Alter the components of your environment that are stressful (as much as possible). If you hate your job, consider finding a new one, or, if you really can't stand it at all, quit and worry about finding another job later. If a friend is negative and/or unhelpful, decrease the time you spend with him or her. If your relationship with your spouse is faltering, seek marital therapy, and so on.
  • Reconnect with family and friends who you find supportive to be around, and ask them for help before your next suicidal crisis gets out of hand. Keep in mind that people are not able to read your mind and will not necessarily know what is happening in your head and heart.
  • Make use of crisis telephone hotlines and online support communities.

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