The news is full of stories of people in a mental health crisis ending up dead at the hands of people who were called to help. What happened in Roseville a few years ago stands as an example of making a bad situation worse.
That’s why what happened in Fargo, N.D., on Thursday night is a game changer.
A man, apparently suicidal, had barricaded himself in his apartment and was armed with a gun, KFGO reported. Residents were evacuated as police surrounded the apartment building.
He had made threats to harm himself, but had not threatened anyone else, according to police spokesperson Jessica Schindeldecker.
“The male has made no threats to harm anybody else and we have no reason to believe he would harm anyone else Our goal is to get him the help he needs,” Schindeldecker said.
The police were patient and so were the residents, Valley News Live said.
This is usually the point where things go wrong.
That’s why what happened next was so unusual.
The police left.
“Officers, to this point, have been unsuccessful in communicating with the male,” the spokesperson announced around 11 p.m. “After consulting with the family, we believe the best way to deescalate the situation is for law enforcement to leave the scene. We pray the male finds peace throughout the night, and get the help he needs.”
No doubt, some mental health experts are prepared to intervene.
Fargo established a crisis intervention team and provides officers with 40 hours of intensive training in mental health issues and, according to the city website, “personal interaction with people who have experienced and recovered from mental health crisis and with family members who have cared for loved ones with mental illness.”
(h/t: Nancy Lebens)
[Update 4:32 p.m.] – Updated news release from Fargo PD:
Last night, Fargo Police Officers responded to 1033 43 ½ St. S. for a report of a suicidal male. After exhausting all options, multiple unsuccessful attempts to make contact with the male, and multiple hours later, a decision to leave the scene was made in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. Today, at 12:08 p.m., Fargo Officers were dispatched to this apartment for a deceased male. Our condolences go out to his family during this difficult time. We ask that you please respect the privacy of his family and friends as they grieve their loss. No further information is available at this time as this is an ongoing investigation.