MEDFORD, Ore. — More people in Medford are attempting to take their own lives. In fact, Medford Police responded to more than 300 calls for suicides or attempts through August of this year. In the video above, Lieutenant Mike Budreau talks with us about how these numbers compare to last year and what action Medford Police are taking.
These are the numbers from the past 4 years:
2010 – 204 suicide or suicide attempts – all year
2011 – 290 cases (42% increase) – all year
2012 – 344 cases (18% increase) – all year
2013 – 301 cases just through August (19% increase from August last year)
There are a couple of reasons behind the number increase. Cuts in state funding means more mentally ill people on the street instead of in a hospital. Mental health services are taxed and running at maximum capacity, which leads to more encounters with law enforcement and a lack of beds. Also, prescription drug use and abuse is way up.
In order to proactively address the issue, Medford Police Department is in the process of training all officers on a 40-hour mental health crisis training. Two mental health workers are stationed at MPD during the evenings and weekends, so police have full coverage 24/7. This allows mental health personnel to respond to the scene, as opposed to police having to take someone into protective custody and bring them to mental health.
Lt. Budreau explains every time officers have to take someone into custody, they run the risk of a use of force situation. When people are in crisis, they can be unpredictable, so it’s best to talk to a professional ASAP.