Commit to living for a while longer, for as much as you’re able to give right now.
The time you can offer to your family, friends, and support network opens the door to future possibilities.
More time means more possibilities.
“Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
– Viktor Frankl
I want to keep this one simple, that way you can just get it done.
Remember the person you thought about in “Step 1. Pause”? This is where you tell that person that you are going to live for as long as you can promise now. Whether it’s a decade or a day, if you make that explicit commitment to someone that you trust, then it will be stronger.
Pick one or two trusted persons. Pick someone who you believe will be understanding and supportive. Pick someone you have frequent in-person contact with if possible.
Research shows that sharing written goals is the best way to succeed. Sharing in writing is preferable.
The more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to reach them. If you can tell them what is going on and why you’re making this commitment, then that would be optimal. However, even a nonspecific promise can be beneficial if it is to somebody that you trust. Example: “I will go to the movies with you next Thursday. I’ll get the tickets, and you get the popcorn.”
“You have brains in your head. Yet feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose… You know what you know. And you are the [one] who’ll decide where to go.”
– Dr. Seuss
I think we often underestimate what willpower can achieve. In my darkest times, I would set aside my plans for self-destruction on behalf of someone else, or to fulfill a commitment. I’m not alone on that.
For a long time, mental health professionals would have someone sign a “no-suicide contract.” Most of the time that was a useless gesture, but when it did seem to work it was only because the relationship itself mattered. No contract like that ever stopped me from moving toward death, but when I told my friend that I would live at least one more week, it was locked in my mind.
In the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Risk Assessment Standards, and the gold standard CSSRS assessment, specific and detailed suicide plans are considered particularly high risk.
A recent model of suicidal risk helps by connecting detailed plans with the power of behavioral intention as explored in the Theory of Planned Behavior.
It is logical that this same principle can be used in the opposite direction.
Positive planning for the future is noted as a buffer against suicide risk. Specific plans would convey behavioral intention in the direction of living. The practice of encouraging people to share crisis response plans or any other advanced planning document serves the practical purpose of providing explicit instructions, but also solidifies that intended goal in your mind.