A Safety Plan for When Life Gets Rough

By Courtney BreslowJuly 3, 2017

From a young age we are instructed on what to do in the event of an emergency. We are taught set strategies for varying occasions and situations that may arise. We have drills in school so often, you might even expect there to be a designated period just for that.

If there’s one thing a California kid such as myself knows best, it’s how to dive under a desk and contort my body to fit under it for long periods of time. (Midwest folks, please replace this earthquake scenario with tornados, and east coasters with hurricanes.)

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the lifesaving knowledge (I’m always down for a little stop, drop, and roll action)—I just wish someone would have taught us what to do when the fire, earthquake, or snowstorm happens in our minds.

Growing up, my mom always vocalized the “safety first” state of mind. That rule didn’t necessarily stop me from doing irresponsible things, but I did always wear a helmet while doing them. Your mental health should be treated no differently. It is no less dire or deserving of protection just because it cannot be seen. We need to learn how to create elbow and knee pads for our mental health.

If you’ve ever experienced suicidal thoughts, you know how scary it can be to feel as though there are no other options to make the pain stop. But the truth is, you do have options. There are people that want to help you. There are resources available to you. And being aware of those options can help you be more prepared if you or someone you know ends up in that situation.

A safety plan can look like anything you want it to, but for the purpose of simplicity, I will mention a few essentials. (Feel free to get more in depth if you’d like.)

You can write these ideas on a sticky note, create a poster to hang on your wall, type them into your phone, or all of the above. The most vital thing is that you have easy access to them.

  • Crisis Text Line: You can text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected with a trained counselor for free (even consider adding them as a contact in your phone).
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK [8255]
  • A local crisis number for your area, which often times has mobile response teams that will come help you out (hit up Google to check if there’s one that services your area).
  • 911. This one might seem obvious to some, and too intimidating of an option to others. If you do feel intimidated by it, please know that it’s what 911 is there for—it exists to help individuals who are in danger. It exists to protect people, and you are worth protection.

Additional options (you can exclude these if you do not think they will be of service to you):

  • The phone numbers of a few people who you trust and you feel you could talk to and even help you to find professional resources.

Side note: Be prepared for the possibility that these people may not answer their phones. That is not because they do not love you or do not care for your wellbeing. Try to not let that deter you from utilizing the other options on your safety plan either.

  • List or include a few things that give you joy and provide you with hope. Maybe it’s a picture of your dog, or a picture of a mountain you have yet to climb. It could be the words, “Mom and Dad” or, “to see tomorrow’s sunset.” It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just something to remind you that there is still beauty in the world.
  • Write a letter to yourself. On a day you have a glimmer of hope, write a letter telling yourself that you have seen it once and you will see it again. If you can’t quite see it yet, please use this:

Dear Champ,

Please don’t go. Choose to stay and choose to fight this. It may seem like everything inside you wants the pain to end, but there is a reason you are still here. Allow these words to be your spark. Hold on to this tiny bit of light and weather this storm. Please reach out for help. You are not a burden, your problems are not too big or too small to be spoken about with others. You are meant to take up space in this world. There are people that love you, there are people you love. Stay for them, and if that’s not enough for you then hold on to this: There will be someone someday that needs to hear the story of your strength. Maybe she’s a 12-year-old girl sitting at a bus stop, thinking that middle school is too hard and she can’t bear it anymore. Maybe it’s a parent struggling to have a relationship with their kids, thinking their children might just be better off without them. Maybe it is your child who doesn’t know yet that it’s okay to ask for help. You have beat this every single day and this time will be no different. You know what to do, you have the tools, you can do this, champ. They need you, the whole world needs you. You exist to be heard and to be loved. Keep reaching, keep choosing to stay.


A friend

Earthquakes are powerful but they do not last forever. Eventually you will be able to crawl back out from under the desk. These thoughts may be overwhelming and scary, but they are not more powerful than you. Asking for help is one of the bravest things a person can do. I am so proud of you for choosing to stay, you are worth the fight.

Please note that I am not a mental health professional. I highly encourage you to reach out to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, to help you find professional help. Our Find Help page or Google can also be a good place to start looking for resources near you.

If you are struggling and want advice about how to reach out or you need help finding resources near you, please email [email protected] for more information.  

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Comments (14)

  1. Carlynne

    This was a blog I needed to read today. I need to make a toolkit for myself for when times go bad. I’ve heard others talk about having a tool kit, but I’ve either procrastinated on making one for myself or have forgotten to do so (or maybe both). I’m glad there are better days too. Thanks for your blog

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  2. Megan


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  3. PeaceofaPuzzle

    Can I copy the “Dear Champ” letter and give it to my therapist. She keeps these kinda things.

    Thanks for the answer.

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  4. Sammi

    I have been learning about my new diagnosis after finding out that my original was wrong. It has shaken me to learn this because it was as if my efforts to get better were all irrelevant because they were based on a misdiagnosis. This post showed me thats not true because regardless of what I call the darkness, the way to the light is still the same.

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    1. Becky Ebert


      You are brave beyond words. Receiving a misdiagnosis can be overwhelming and confusing, but you are handling it with such grace. Be proud of yourself. As you said, the path to the light and healing is still the same, no matter what. You will get there.

      With Hope,

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  5. Brittany Whiteside

    Lately, my hubby and I have been trying to stay strong with the amount of stuff we are having to deal with. I truly needed this and think in may write him and i a letter. Thank you ❤️

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  6. B

    thank you for providing resources. 741741 is helpful so far.

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  7. Nikki

    Thank you for writing this. For putting the words right here in front of me so that I can see them. I’m writing this with tears in my eyes because I am the one who always holds everything in, always having to look like I have the perfect life, and always having to be the strong one for my family and girlfriend. I don’t know how to put my needs and mental health first. But the letter you wrote out has reached out to me and I want to thank you so much for posting this blog. Your words really save lives…it saved mine today. <3

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  8. Cheyenne

    I am so very tired, and it all gets to be far too much especially lately.
    Having a hard time coping, but I really appreciate and feel so grateful for this letter.
    Reading it over and over and telling myself that while it may not be OK now, someday it will be all be OK.
    So tonight I will go to sleep in my bed and not amongst the grave stones.
    And I am even more grateful for that.

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    1. Becky Ebert


      Your hope for the future is inspiring. We admire you, and your courage to continue. To keep going and have hope for yourself. You deserve it.

      Please know that you can contact us. We are here for you. You can email us anytime at [email protected]. We read and respond to every message we receive. We also encourage you to seek out help. A good place to start is our Find Help page here: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/ And if you are in need of immediate aid, please text TWLOHA to 741741 via Crisis Text Line. You will be connected to a trained counselor free of charge.

      We do believe that hope is real, and help is out there. Please embrace both.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  9. Maude

    Je vais mal, je vais mal et j’ai aucune idée de ce qui m’arrive. Ca va faire 2/3 ans que je me renferme sur moi même que je me mutile, et pleure chaque soir comme chaque matin, j’ai du mal a dormir, même que dés fois je ne dors pas du tout, je ne suis pas aller voir de médecin ni psychiatre ou psychologue. J’en ai même pas parlé à mes parents, j’ai déjà fais plusieurs test de ” dépression” et ils disent tous ” dépression sévère” sauf que je le sais déjà que je suis dépressive, j’ai des idées noirs pleins à la tête tout le long de la journée même quant il fait beau, que tout le monde est joyeux. Je souris, je fais l’air de paraître bien, personne ne se doute de rien, personne ne me demande si je vais réellement bien. Je suis anxieuse, bipolaire, et paranoïaque, schizophrène et dites moi que je ne suis pas folle. Ces voix dans ma tête elles me répètent toujours les même choses, elles me soufflent au coin des oreilles ce que je dois faire, je suis piégé, brisé, manipulé, possédé. Elles me détiennent. J’en ai marre, j’en ai marre mais je ne suis pas folle s’il vous plaît écouter moi. Je suis seulement arrivé en enfer.

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    1. Becky Ebert

      Nous sommes tellement désolés de savoir que vous êtes en train de traverser cela, surtout par vous-même. Veuillez vous adresser à ceux qui vous entourent. Vous êtes mérite d’être aidé, vous n’avez pas à porter ces charges par vous-même.

      Si vous prenez le temps de nous envoyer un courriel à [email protected], nous aimerions vous fournir des encouragements et, espérons-le, des ressources. Vous pouvez toujours nous envoyer un courriel à cette adresse lorsque vous avez besoin de quelqu’un pour écouter. Quelqu’un de notre équipe répondra à votre message. Vous n’êtes pas seul dans ce domaine. Nous sommes avec toi.

      Avec espoir,

      Reply  |  
  10. mustafa

    Thank you for sharing

    Reply  |  
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