Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. North Dakota has seen the largest increase in the nation, and because of this, our first responders are always working to improve their roles.
Our law enforcement officers deal with suicide cases in a couple of ways: welfare checks after a concerned family or friend reaches out, when someone is in crisis and feels they have no other choices
or, in the worst case, when it’s too late.
Sgt. Tim Sass, BPD: “We’ll try to gather as much information from the call-taker as you can. Initially what we’re going to do is go make contact with the person. Seeing what is going on, how we can help them, and offering any resources that we can to them.”
Sgt. Lori Dirk; MCSO: “The amount of mental health training that I got when I first started to now is way more.”
As we learn more about mental health, our men in blue take that information to better serve the public.
Sgt. Lori Dirk; MCSO: “Our knowledge and resources have really increased over the years. There’s a lot more availability for the public in being able to get services.”
Officers go through crisis intervention training to best handle suicide cases.
Sgt. Tim Sass, BPD: “A lot of it is just talking to people and listening. Some people just want to talk and let their problems be heard.”
The CDC published this list of warning signs.
And although suicide can be complex problem, how you can help is simple.
I spoke with a psychologist for advice.
Marie Schaf-Gallagher; Sanford Health Psychologist: “Simply asking is so important. I think people are afraid to say ‘suicide,’ that word is scary. But to be able to ask someone– ‘how are you feeling?'”
Until resources and training can catch up with North Dakota’s needs, suicide will still be the reason lives are lost.
Sgt. Lori Dirk; MCSO: “It’s getting there, I would say it’s getting there in regards to having the proper training. The availability of services is still a little behind.”
We at KX News take suicide prevention very seriously.
If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-TALK.
Their website has an abundance of resources, including an online chat if you’d rather not call.