DrDan’s Toolkit – Safety Plans: Internal Coping Strategies

I’ve been writing about the Safety Plan as a brief suicide intervention, Tear up that no-harm/no-suicide contract, and we are moving on to the second step, Internal Coping Strategies.

The question for the person considering suicide in this second step is “What can you do, without involving anyone else, if you begin thinking suicidal thoughts again?  What can you do to help yourself not act on those thoughts?”

Two benefits to this strategy are 1) developing their own list of coping strategies can boost their sense of self-efficacy and support the belief that they are able to overcome their suicidal urges and, 2) these coping strategies may serve as a distraction from their crisis and suicidal thoughts plus interfere with the suicidal thoughts escalating into actions.

Examples of internal coping strategies are displayed in the graphic above this article.

The effectiveness of these strategies or techniques will vary from person to person, so ideally the person themselves will be involved in developing their own individualized list.  This collaborative, problem-solving approach may also help build the rapport between the person and their healthcare professional, if they are working with one.

Remember that people may also use apps called MY3 and Safety Plan to develop their plan.  Both are free and available from the Apple app store or Google Play.

Once their list is developed, a further refinement would be to have the person select the top three options they are most likely to use.  Then, follow-up with “How likely are you to use these strategies in time of crisis?”  If any potential roadblocks are identified, help the person develop workarounds for the roadblocks.

Next, we’ll cover step three, Socialization Strategies for Distraction and Support.

If you are interested in my upcoming trainings or my new online training format, or want to review my CV, please visit my website at criticalconcepts.org.