These tips for physically preventing self-injury are intended for people who tend to SI on impulse, or whose SI is putting their health seriously at risk. They can also help other self-injurers avoid temptation. Remember, SI is a coping mechanism and making it physically impossible will not deal with the issues that originally caused it, so you'll probably need to use the alternatives to self-harm and look at the Mental Health section in conjunction with these suggestions.
- Throw away anything you use to SI that you don't strictly need for other purposes. If you feel unable to throw something out, put it somewhere that's difficult or time-consuming to get at.
- Try to minimise the dangers from items you use to SI but also need for other purposes. For example, only keep a couple of painkillers in the house rather than a whole box.
- If you're on medication and overdosing is an issue, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about dispensing your pills in smaller quantities, or ask a friend or family member to look after them for you.
- Think about the situations in which you usually SI, and about the things that trigger you. Write these situations and factors down, then divide them into three categories: things that can always be reasonably avoided (e.g. drinking alcohol), things that can sometimes be avoided or can be avoided in the short term (e.g. being at home alone), and things that can't reasonably be avoided (e.g. being criticised). To decide whether something can be "reasonably" avoided or not, think about what your quality of life would be like without it, as well as the lengths you would have to go to to avoid it. Aim to avoid everything in the first category. You might want to also avoid things in the second category at times when you feel particularly at risk, or where practical.
A word of warning: Most triggers can't be avoided forever, and in the long run you will need to be prepared to learn to cope with them. To help you cope with those triggers you can't avoid, take a look at the Mental Health section, or ask for a therapist's help.
- If your SI is putting your health seriously at risk, consider going into hospital or to another safe place such as a crisis house. You don't have to wait for someone else to suggest this - if you think hospitalisation would help, talk to your doctor or therapist about it.
- If you find your attempts to prevent SI just lead to you being more creative in the ways you do it, or you switch to equally unhealthy behaviours (such as eating disorders or substance misuse), look at alternatives to self-harm to find healthier ways of coping.