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Ok! How do you make yourself choose to use helpful strategies, not wallow in despair?

Community Member

I have the safety plan where you list who you should contact, the reasons you need to stay alive, etc. etc. - and I know academically about thinking "What's the worst that could happen?", "Could I live through it?", "What's the most likely outcome?" etc. etc. to analyse thoughts.

However, how do you actually make yourself use these? When you're feeling ok you know self-destructive thoughts are irrational and harmful but when you're in the midst of cursing your own existence and plotting a path to perish how do you make yourself stop and think what you should do to keep safe, to get over it, to reach out, etc.?

People say call this-and-that number or remember to follow your safety plan but when you're seriously depressed you're not thinking "this is not normal" but "I serve no purpose".

What do you do? What works? How did you train yourself to think that way?

12 Replies 12

Hi Dr Rotten,

It's so great to hear you've got yourself a safety plan. You sound very self aware and we think it's great you're reaching out to us here like this.

We realise you're not after numbers to call, but support, advice and conversation based on the experiences of others on this forum. That said, we want to reiterate that help is always available to you. If ever you feel like you're a danger to yourself, then it's a legitimate emergency and you should call 000 immediately. Many services also offer a webchat option so you can communicate directly with a qualified mental health professional in real time without having to speak on the phone. Our regular support service offers webchat counselling every day from 3pm-midnight AEST via: https://online.beyondblue.org.au/Webmodules/chat/InitialInformation.aspx. Our Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support service offers webchat 24/7 here: https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/general/chat-online.html

We do hope you get some useful answers to your question here in time. Please keep checking in and letting us know how you're getting on whenever you feel up to it.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi DrRotten

Firstly I would like to say that I am pleased to hear that you have given thought to a safety plan, they are so very important and so very useful .... when they are fit for purpose. What I mean by that is that I am sure it could be very easy to put together a plan, for the sake of putting names of those to call and maybe doing the exercise for the sake of the exercise and to say "yes, I have a safety plan". I also have learnt here that some people say "why would I reach for my safety plan when I want to die?" and that is maybe what you are getting at here, am I right?

Can suggest is that maybe the safety plan you have actually isn't a safety plan at all and it is a list of things that people suggest or what you "should" do or "should" call. Maybe calling someone is not the answer for you. What we do need to work out is what DOES work for you. As you say here you have had times when "you're in the midst of cursing your own existence and plotting a path to perish", can you take some time when you are not feeling so very bad to really reflect on how you have brought yourself out of these times, as you have, you have fought them and you have won. Also maybe sharing with a friend or family member who is close to you what they can do for you that works, also what most definitely does not work and what you don't want them to do or say, this can be really helpful for them to help you too.

I am not sure if this is helpful for you DrRotten but I think that one size does not fit all, and the concept of a safety plan needs to be fit for each person, not a one size fits all approach.

Have you seen the BeyondNow app, which is the suicide safety planning app. I have had a good look at it and what I like about this one is that you can do it with a person that is close to you, with a family member or close friend, if you don't have this support you can work through it with the support of Beyond Blue counsellors that can help you. The good thing about this is that not only can you put some things in there that actually work and resonate with you, that also by doing it with someone close they too can know what you need in these times and mostly what NOT to do. I don't want to come off as throwing you another safety plan to look at that is just a list, but I have put the link here if you wanted to take a look:


I hope to chat to you some more and support you through this time



Thanks, Sarah, that was very helpful. Yes, you were exactly right; the 'safety plan' I have is one which has a question-and-answer format, and I filled in responses to the specific questions. You are right, though; phoning people is absolutely far from my mind at those times.

The idea of making my own, that is meaningful to my own situation, is inspiring. I shall check out the link you gave.

Many thanks.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dr Rotten,

I will come straight out and answer your questions at the end of your post...

I will have the physical sensations when in negative territory, and the thoughts tell me I am "not good enough" and I have my goto apps on my phone to use. I also have a set of beads I can play with on myself at all times. So for me it is about stopping anything from happening before anything else. The other thing is, and I have to thank my psychologist for but I also use those goto apps on the good days as well. It is all about practice. If I get used to using something then it becomes automatic.

My safety plan is quite simple and was devised with the help of my psychologist. But all the things I do now help to make those thoughts occur much less than they used to.

Community Champion
Community Champion
PS. Forgot to say that I also force myself to do things like walking or use my goto apps.

Catie 08
Community Member
Hi DrRotten,

I've tried to explain this to a friend before.... Whilst I have my list of things that help pull me back out of the low points, whilst your down there it can be hard to think rationally enough to use the list. My friend found it really hard to understand but I know I personally find it hard to use the list until I start to ride the wave back out from the low point.

I'm interested to hear what others do in the same situation so I'm keen to follow your thread to try and learn some new things to try.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Dr Rotten

I love this question, to be honest. It's so true. People tell you to excercise or to start new hobbies but in the moment I can barely move from one side of the room to the other and painting a picture doesn't seem appealing...

A few ways that have helped me - including them in case one registers - (some learnt at hospital...)

Having a timetable and putting self-care things on it - eg on monday to go for a walk, tueday to go out for a coffee, wednesday to read a book....forces me to be acccountable

Setting the bar super low in such moments - eg I may nt be able to get up and go for a walk, but maybe I can just go outside, to the mailbox and back.

Calling Lifeline - they often ask you during the call - what's something nice you can do for yourself today or now - or something you can do to stay safe - whatever I blurt out is usually something important for me, that I'd been emotionally cut off from. (i can go days not feeling entitled to even eat a meal or drink a cup of tea... )

Calling friends can help if it's possible but sometimes it's not...

I think to answer a lot of your quetions, I don't always know myself that i'm vulnerable and need to access my safety net - without Lifeline or a friend or an outsider I can sometimes wait too long to do so. I guess connections help me, and then it becomes a habit..

Community Member

Hi DrRotten

Thank you for starting this thread. What works to get yourself to keep safe and reach out does different between people, but I also think what gets you there can also depend on that exact moment - why and what your self-destructive thoughts are.

It's great that you have a safety plan already and hopefully you'll be able to add/adjust it so that it's more accessible and better suited for you. You might find that some of Aaronsis, smallwolf and Sleepy21's suggestions work for you 🙂

If you're into apps, in the past I've found Booster Buddy and Calm Harm quite helpful. In Booster Buddy you check in with a character and rate how you're feeling and then you get prompted to complete 3 tasks (ie. eat a piece of fruit, change out of your pjs, go for a walk). It also has a pretty extensive list of strategies for motivation, feeling anxious, and general wellbeing.

Calm Harm just provides a list of strategies to help depending on whether you want a distraction or comfort. May be something there will sit well with you and might be easier for you to practice/become a habit for you.

Looking forward to hearing more strategies from other forum users, and also to see what helps you DrRotten.

Take Care,

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

I've been struglging with this the past two days - so really feeling this question

Few things I've tried include:
Calling Lifeline
Calling Butterfly Foundation

Going to the supermarket to at least be out of my house and see humans

eating healthy food
Some things I'd like to try:
Doing self-care (face-mask, reading)

being in a cosy and comfortable space

hot drink

Letting the day go

I've also used mantras before - which I'll revisit tonight. Training our brains to take care of ourselves is...... not easy.