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Suicide Calls on the Rise

Pete Springer/OPB

Portland Police say they’re getting more calls involving people who seem to be suicidal. The latest came in on Friday, when police responded to a man wielding knives and saying he wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

Police Chief Mike Reese recently told reporters they’ve seen a 90 percent increase in suicide calls since 2001, and a review ordered by Mayor Sam Adams found police were dealing with an average of three of these calls per day. The review came after police fatally shot a suicidal man weilding what turned out to be a toy handgun. Reese’s comments and the killing raised questions about how police can best respond to situations involving people who are mentally ill. It’s worth mentioning that most of the calls do not end in fatalities. Just a few weeks ago, a suicidal woman was taken to a local hospital after police used a stungun to subdue her.

Police are still working on a new partnership with the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center to bring trained mental health professionals to the scene when a 9-1-1 call involves someone who is suicidal.

Have you ever been in a situation where police were called to assist a suicidal person? What happened?

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OPB | Broadcast: Feb. 21, 2012