the police can show up to your door instead of an ambulance if you’re feeling suicidal – tw: suicide

October 20, 2016

If you’re feeling suicidal an officer can show up to door. Even if you call 911 they can refer you to call the police department instead. This article is not meant to bash all of law enforcement. However, we need to address a major issue here. Many police officers are not fully equipped to take on a mental health crisis. I feel it’s bad enough that people with mental illness can already be mistaken for a common criminal. Especially when they’re more than likely to be a danger to themselves.

When you’re thinking of ending your life you need serious help immediately. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed what can happen when someone is in this kind of crisis. A few weeks ago I had to help someone who was feeling suicidal. She left me an alarming voice-mail. When I called to check on her she wouldn’t answer. So I called for help. She happens to live in a different state than I do. Just imagine me calling 911 and getting the run around.

I was trying to find which district I should call to have someone check on her. This took nearly an hour to find the right district. In that amount of time this young woman could have died. When I finally got the number in the right district I had to speak to a police officer.

By Jasmin Pierre*, AFROPUNK contributor

This was the first question asked

“Is she armed or dangerous right now?”

That question actually made me furious. As I previously stated people with mental illness are majority of the time a bigger danger to themselves. This young woman was harmless to cops who are already armed with protection. She didn’t want to kill anyone else. She was just hurting so badly that she wanted to end her own life. She needed medical attention, Not someone coming to her house wondering if she was some crazy mass shooter.

When the police arrived they didn’t call for an ambulance. They offered to take her in the police car. This was very triggering to her. She once told me

“I’m sick. Not a criminal. I shouldn’t have to ride in a police car to the hospital”

So they left. She was still feeling suicidal and wasn’t helped. I called the police station back. I told them if she wouldn’t go in the police car to call an ambulance for back up. The police went back to her house with an ambulance. This time she left with the ambulance. Now I have a question. Why couldn’t the ambulance come get her in the first place? Why was I required to call the police and have to get an ambulance through them? Why did it take me hours to get this young woman to a hospital?

We do not treat stroke and heart attack patients like this. So why for mental illness? Why should someone wanting to end their life be treated like a criminal?Just look at how the media portays mental illness. Mass shootings are often being the blame. Innocent people with mental illness have even been shot or killed by law enforcement. When you’re not probably trained in how to deescalate mental health situations anything can happen. A lot of people have been getting shot or killed by the police in general. Even if they don’t have a mental illness. All of this is in the media right now. That’s all we’ve been seeing.

Do you really think someone feeling suicidal wants to deal with an officer right now? They need medical attention. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United states. The law and healthcare system both need to do better in handling these situations. Suicidal patients should not be taken to a hospital in a police car. They’re not criminals.

*Jasmin Pierre is a 27-year-old mental health activist and author of the new self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those suffering from major depressive disorder. She inspires to become a life coach and continue writing to encourage others to never give up.

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