Things To Do Instead of Dying

Unorthodox coping strategies, distraction techniques and self-harm prevention methods that you’ve utilised when you’ve wanted to end your life but needed to stay alive:

  • scrub the shit out of your oven
  • grab a cactus with all your might / spend the following hour(s) tweezing the spikes out of your hand / it’s less of a pain, more of a major irritation / you will not be able to think about anything else, trust me
  • sign every petition on
  • give yourself a tattoo
  • reminisce on celebrity interactions [like when you touched George R. R. Martin’s beard in the lift / when Tyra Banks approached you on a street in Barcelona and said, like Regina George, “You’re really pretty,” and you turned bright red and ran away / the other night with that SAS guy off the telly with the laugh that didn’t reach his eyes] and wonder why these humans are rich and you are poor / you’ll be so incredulous that you’ll throw yourself into a new side hustle and forget being suicidal while frantically setting up an Etsy shop
  • meditate by a motorway
  • steal your neighbour’s cat / would kidnapping a cat be called catnapping? / take a catnap / take some catnip / whatever, just… cat
  • go to Poundland / pick up any random item / ask a member of staff how much it costs / be surprised when they tell you it’s a quid / repeat, repeat, repeat until you are asked to leave
  • go down to Kings Cross and tell the young homeless girls that you were them once / that it doesn’t have to be forever / that it can get better
  • go to a graveyard / challenge yourself to find the oldest birth date and the oldest death date / marvel at the curious causes of death engraved on Victorian headstones
  • get on a bus at the start of its route and stay on it until the end
  • organise your carrier bag collection into 5p / 10p / 20p / £1 bags
  • fall asleep in the bath / wake up choking on cold, soapy water / realise that your body won’t let you die right now so don’t even bother trying
  • TTT: tramadol, tequila and tomato soup
  • dislocate your fingers
  • throw your phone into the Thames / throw your whole handbag into the Thames / fuck it, throw your clothes and shoes into the Thames, JUST NOT YOURSELF
  • start a fire
  • find someone equally helpless and drag them to the nearest pub
  • cut your hair: a bit of it / most of it / all of it / just chop chop chop (your hair instead of your arms)
  • bet on a horse / you have to stay alive to see what happens, to see if you win / when the horse loses or dies, you’ll have a new thing to be angry or sad about
  • pop your finger bones back into place (so satisfying)
  • write a list naming everything and everyone you are afraid of, then eat it
  • indulge in primal scream therapy on Hampstead Heath
  • plant mysterious and/or sinister notes in library books
  • bake a cake
  • eat it too.

HLR (she/her) is a prize-winning poet, working-class writer, and professional editor from North London. She is a commended winner of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2021. She also won The Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2021, and was longlisted for The Plough Prize 2022. She is the author of History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) and Portrait of the Poet as a Hot Mess (Ghost City Press). Twitter: @HLRwriter