In recent years, police and firefighters in Maplewood, Minn., have responded to more and more suicides and attempts. Now, they are encouraging citizens to reach out to public safety staff for help.
Each year, Maplewood police and fire personnel respond to more than 400 crisis-related calls, and most result in some type of referrals; however, statewide data shows an increase in suicide and local officials are putting a priority on prevention and awareness.
"The City of Maplewood, through its police and fire departments, is committed to helping those experiencing a depression-related crisis," Maplewood Fire Chief Steve Lukin assured. "We recognize depression as a treatable medical condition."
Many Americans are still shouldering economic stress, and research has also shown seasonal changes and the upcoming holiday season can cause additional strain. That's why responders decided to speak out so that residents are aware that officers and paramedics are a 24-hour resource for the community.
"We want people to know that Maplewood's public safety staff stands ready to assist anyone struggling with a depression-related crisis, including thoughts of suicide," Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said.
Schnell added that police and emergency responders can help struggling individuals get immediate and effective help.
Along with conducting an internal review of mental health crisis response and transportation policies, the city is also providing patrol officers, firefighters and paramedics with updated information about suicide warning signs and the symptoms of serious depression.
The city is also developing a crisis referral list that will soon be posted on the police department's website. In the interim, those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts are urged to contact one of the local resources listed below.
SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES
Any of the following are available by phone 24 hours a day.
Maplewood Police and Fire Departments: 911
Ramsey County Mental Health Crisis: 651-266-7900 and 651-266-7890
United Way: 211
St. John's Hospital's Emergency Department, located at 1575 Beam Avenue in Maplewood, and Regions Hospital's Emergency Department, located at 640 Jackson Street in St. Paul, are also open 24 hours a day.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR, HOW TO HELP
There are warning signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and those concerned about a friend or loved one should watch out for:
1. Extreme mood swings
2. Withdrawing or feeling isolated
3. Expressing feelings of hopelessness or a lack of purpose
4. Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
5. Talking about being a burden to others
6. Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
7. Showing rage or seeking revenge
8. Sleeping too little or too much
9. Increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs
10. Talking about wanting to die.
11. Discussing methods of suicide.
To help a person exhibiting some or many of the signs above, loved ones can be proactive by ensuring the person is not left alone. Removing firearms, sharp objects, and other items that could be used for self-harm can also help prevent suicide attempts. Advocates can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for additional advice.