Sunday, September 11, 2016

Suicide Prevention Plan

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. I recently read an article in the Ensign about creating a "suicide prevention plan." I'd never heard of such a thing. I figured it was probably something for those who were already struggling with suicidal thoughts or who were already in a crisis. As I learned about the different steps involved in creating a plan however, I soon realized that in many ways, suicidal thoughts is like other crises: the time to make a plan to deal with it is before it happens! (I'd encourage everyone to read it, regardless of their religious preference or previous experience with depression or suicidal thoughts. The section about creating a plan starts halfway down the page:

I've never felt suicidal. And while I've struggled with anxiety and self-doubt on plenty of occasions, I don't think I've ever had clinical depression. So it's tempting to think this is something I don't really need to worry about. However, I've since learned from others that you just can't tell who will be affected. And like any emergency plan, you obviously hope to never have to use it. But when a crisis arises, you'll be glad you were prepared. On that note, I decided to follow the steps outlined in the article to create my own plan, which I've briefly outlined here. You can create your own by following this pattern and adapting it to fit your own needs. The idea is to start with step one and move on to each step in order if you still don't feel better:

  1. Recognize warning signs.
    • loss of interest in activities I usually enjoy
    • withdrawal from friends and family
    • melancholy and lack of motivation to do anything
  2. Try to comfort myself.
    • listen to calming, uplifting music
    • go for a walk
    • draw
    • play non-violent video games
    • watch videos that make me laugh
  3. Think about reasons for living.
    • my friends and family love and depend on me
    • personal projects I'm working on
    • goals I hope to accomplish in the future
  4. Reach out to others for help (include phone numbers).
    • family members
    • close friends
    • bishop
  5. Create a safe environment.
    • stay with someone supportive; don't be alone
    • ask for help removing potentially harmful items
    • go to a park, mall, movie theater, or other social environment
  6. Contact a professional.
    • US suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • crisis text line: 741-741
  7. Get emergency help.
    • call 911
    • go to nearest hospital and ask for help
( lists the phone numbers for suicide hotlines in different countries around the world.)
Again, I hope to never have to use this plan. But I have already made a copy that is easily accessible on my phone if I should ever need it. I'd encourage everyone to do the same. Treat this the same way you would treat preparing for any emergency. Sit down with family or friends and talk about it. Don't wait. Make a plan now.

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