Depression and the Importance of a Suicide Prevention Plan
Being prepared with a suicide prevention plan saves lives.
Posted Jun 29, 2017
Living with a depressive disorder means making sure thoughts of suicide are immediately addressed and treated.
Though it's tough to talk about urges of wanting to die, it's important to put together a suicide prevention plan to ensure your safety. According to research, talking about suicide prevention does not increase the risk for suicide—and also helps manage mood disorders. Here are some suggestions.
- Make a “life plan.” Keep a list of suicide-intervention professionals, agencies, and hotlines, and their respective contact numbers. Also keep names of loved ones and trusted friends to contact if you're feeling vulnerable. These should be programmed into cell and cordless phones and bookmarked in personal computers and laptops.
- Ask others to keep you informed. Invite trusted people to let you know if they detect any changes in how you’re thinking or behaving. Suicidal intentions can be subtle and can be reflected in how you think, communicate, and behave. In truth, others may see these high-risk symptoms before you do.
- Choose life-affirming experiences. Resist reading, watching or following depressing, tragic or trauma-filled books, TV shows, news stories, and films. These negative experiences can worsen feelings of hopelessness and despair. Instead, embrace nature, feed your senses, and surround yourself with children and adults who brim with purpose and pulse with life. Remember to dodge isolation as much as possible at home, school, or work. Seclusion increases the risk of suicide.
- Sequester lethal means. Consider having a family or friend hold your prescription and over-the-counter medications. Keep items like razors, knives, firearms, rope, and other items out of reach by throwing them out or having someone safeguard them. Sequestering such items subdues the impulse for their use.
- Keep away from drugs and alcohol. Substance use increases impulsivity and blurs cognition. Refrain from this fatal combination by keeping all alcohol and drugs out of reach. Avoid socializing with people who don’t adhere to this policy or who push the agenda that alcohol and drugs will “help you relax” “chill” or “mellow you out.” They won’t. In fact, using drugs and alcohol increases your odds of dying by suicide.
- Pay attention to signs of suicidality. Be mindful about your inner thoughts and feelings. How are you talking to yourself? Is it positive? Negative? Are you feeling hopeful or hopeless? Have there been changes in your behavior? Are you more restless, agitated, impulsive? Remember that subtle changes in thinking, feeling, and behaving not only signal a relapse or recurrence of depression but also set the stage for suicidal behavior.
- Create a “prevention plan.” Suicidal thinking hijacks reasoning, problem solving and common sense. If you detect your judgment worsening, immediately contact a healthcare professional, take yourself to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call a friend or family member. Do not wait. Once your depressive symptoms are effectively treated, thoughts of suicide will reduce – and you’ll feel better.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about a loved one who does, please call 1 800 273-TALK / 1 800 273-8255 or link here for statewide hotlines.