Safety Planning

If you have ever had urges to harm yourself, you know that it can be a scary place to find yourself in. It
can feel like there is nothing we can do about these thoughts, but there are steps you can take to lower
the chances that you might harm yourself. It’s called safety planning –a predetermined guide on steps
one can take when having harmful or suicidal thoughts.

Step 1: Know your warning signs

How can you tell if you are beginning to struggle? This can include thoughts and feelings, such as feeling
hopeless and thinking negative thoughts, or behaviors such as beginning to isolate yourself from others.
Once you know your warning signs, it can be easier to know when it is time to use your resources.
Resources can mean any variety of tools you may use to take action against your problem.

Step 2: Coping Skills

The first line of defense for safety planning is having healthy coping skills. These are tools or strategies that you can utilize on your own that have been known to help you to feel better in the past. This can be anything that is not harmful,  including listening to music, deep breathing exercises, or watching your favorite movie. There are various lists of ideas online if you are struggling to come up with your own.  Self-care can also be considered a coping strategy. It can be helpful to focus on the basics: nutrition, sleep, and movement. Ask yourself questions like: am I hungry right now? Could I use some rest and take a nap? Would moving my body by going for a short walk or dancing to music help? What can help me take my mind off the problem?

Step 3: Identifying Barriers to Safety Planning

When creating your safety plan, it might help to think ahead. Think about what obstacles might get in the way of being able to use the coping skills you have listed. These strategies cannot be helpful in the moment if something stops you
from doing them. How might you make it as easy as possible on yourself to utilize your coping tools? Let’s say you wanted to use music as a coping strategy. It can help to make a playlist ahead of time of uplifting or motivational songs that have helped in the past. The last thing you want is to get caught up in trying to find a song that helps and then give up without ever utilizing the tool. Removing as many barriers as possible between you and your coping skills will save you time and effort when it comes time to utilize them, making it more likely that they are successful.

Step 4: Support Systems

If coping on your own is not working, turning to our support systems can be our next line of defense.
You might want to ask yourself:  Who do I feel safe around? Who can I trust enough to share my real feelings with? Who has been there for me in the past? The people who care about you will want to help you. Allow them to support you during difficult times.

Step 5: Seek Help

Sometimes as much as we try to utilize our resources, thoughts of self-harm or suicide may persist. If this
is the case for you, it might be time to reach out for professional support. You have the option of calling 988 for the suicide and crisis lifeline. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 then 988. If you’d prefer to chat, visit You can also go the nearest emergency room for assistance.

If would like help learning new and healthier ways of coping with your struggles, please feel free to contact us at 832-352-1600 or you can reach us through our website at

Priscilla Buentello, LPC Associate

Priscilla Buentello, LPC Associate

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