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 Post subject: Safety Contracts
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:06 am 
orange is a state of mind
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Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:37 am
Posts: 2238
Location: Brisbane, Australia
There have been times in my life where I thought I just couldn’t go on any more. Things were too intense and I felt too helpless and weak to handle them. I have, in the past, acted on these feelings and urges. Thankfully, I was never successful in ending my own life. But, I have lost friends and loved ones to suicide. It is such a touchy and taboo subject. There is a fear that talking about suicide will put “ideas” into peoples heads. Or, others can’t handle to contemplate losing someone. Others still feel it is a sin to take ones own life. So to someone struggling with these thoughts and feelings it’s a daunting task to reach out and ask for help.

Something I have with my husband (and my therapists) is a Safety Contract. I also have a colour-coded safety scale that helps me illustrate to my partner where my mood is. When I hit red (critical) my safety contract comes in to play. I will give you an example of my safety contract that I use. Then, explain important components.

Please note that it is not appropriate to ask fellow WBB members to make the following contract with you. This is designed to be used with your Real Life support. This level of "responsibility" is not appropriate the kind of support given on this site

I, Keira, agree that I will not harm myself, or try to take my own life, or commit suicide over the next 24 hour period.

If my mood is red on my safety scale, I agree to:

* Surrender any items that could be of harm to myself, to my husband
Such as but not limited to; medications, sharp objects, other objects that may be used
* To hand over my GoCard (travel card) and all money to my husband and agree to not leave the house alone
* To contact Dr C and/or Dr McM (my therapists) to make them aware of my increased suicidality
I will try the following 10 activities to try and “surf” the suicidal urge
1. Play a video game
2. Colour-in
3. Crochet
4. Watch a movie with my husband
5. Write a blog to Dr C (we have an arrangement where I can email him anytime)
6. Bake
7. Read a book
8. Play a board game with my husband
9. Tidy up
10. Look at funny videos/pictures on the internet

If I am unable to complete the activities I agree to call:
000 – Emergency services in Australia – and tell the operator I am suicidal
(07) xxxx xxxx – Psychiatric Emergency
04xx xxx xxx – Dr C – My private psychiatrist
I will stay on the phone with them until the suicidal ideation has reduced. If they recommend presenting to the hospital I allow my husband to take me there.

This is my actual safety contract. It differs to others I have seen but I will point out a few important elements:

* I find I am unable to commit to a indefinite time-frame. By specifying 24 hours it feels more realistic. If, after 24 hours I feel the same, I renew the contract
* I have a clear indicator of when I need a contract – Red on my safety scale means I am having intrusive suicidal thoughts.
* I agree to have all means of self-harm taken away from me. I know I cannot trust myself to resist the temptation.
* I also know that I need to be with someone so I give away my means of transport (I do not drive)
* Before I start the distraction activities I still let my therapists know that I am struggling with suicidal thoughts. They often make a verbal contract with me as well or can start making arrangements for hospital, if needed.
* I have a list of things I can try to do to get through the urges. This list is from both personal experience, and suggestions from others
*I have the numbers of 3 places I can call for more intensive treatment
I have a mild phobia about using the telephone so I do not have a long list of people to call
I also agree to accept treatment and let my husband take me in…I am good at accepting treatment, even when overwhelmed, but I have given him permission to
take me even if I am ambivalent… ... parid=root <- This is a blank template for your use... in docx format. Feel free to download, redistribute, and use as you see fit.

Some other templates:

Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you're just a reflection of him? Calvin and Hobbes

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 Post subject: Re: Safety Contracts
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:34 am 
admin goddess from hell
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Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:10 am
Posts: 12363
Keira, thank you so much. This is a really important post, not just for suicide, but also for members who struggle with self harm. Safety contracts are a common tool in many therapies, and I have just placed it in this subforum as it is one I hope to get back to building on soon. However, if you do struggle with suicidality or self-harm, please bookmark this page, and consider how you can make this tool part of your safety plan.

Whispered words of wisdom,
Let it be.

~~ John Lennon

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 Post subject: Re: Safety Contracts
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:53 pm 
orange addict

Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:57 am
Posts: 200
Location: Homer, AK
I used a similar contract format recently to help me manage my self-destructive lifestyle "habits"... I realized that when I went below a certain calorie intake range, I became intensely suicidal. (Honestly, I was already pretty suicidal, but the kind of brain fog / dissociation I was experiencing on that lowered caloric intake brought the intensity of the urge even higher.) I also was sleeping in too late and exercising obsessively, both of which are pretty clear warning signs that I am in a dark place and need help to get out. I made a contract, first by myself and then with my therapist, that stated I would eat in a certain calorie range, that I would only work out in X way at X time, and that I would be out of bed before X time. I wasn't really ready to talk to her (my therapist) about the suicidal urges at that point, but I think that "behavior" contract helped me make it through until I was able to tell her. (At which point, the intensity of the suicidality was severe enough that I was hospitalized.) It definitely helped with my eating patterns, and kept me somewhat stabilized.

"I am better than I was, I will be better than I am."

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