MEDFORD, Ore., – Medford Police say a pair of separate suicidal standoffs Wednesday are part of a dangerous growing trend. They say officers are responding to an increasing number of suicidal threats or threats to others.
Just before 2 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to the 300 block of Benson Street in Medford, where they found 29-year-old Danny Burlington pacing back and forth in the street, carrying what looked like a gun, and threatening to shoot himself.
Officers and SWAT teams negotiated with Burlington for more than two hours before the man surrendered peacefully. He was briefly lodged in the Jackson County Jail and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Police say that wasn’t the first time Burlington had tried to publicly kill himself. Burlington shot himself in the shoulder during a similar standoff on July 10. Neighbors had also known about his mental health problems, and feared a stray bullet from a suicide attempt would hit someone else. Police say they respond to these types of suicidal threats to make sure no one else gets hurt.
Later Monday, police had another report of a suicide threat, this time from a second man claiming he was going to shoot himself and someone else. Police and SWAT teams responded to a home on Summit Ave. around 12:45 p.m., and were eventually able to get the man to come out without incident. Police say there was no weapon, and no one was hurt. The man, whose name is not being released, was not charged with a crime, and was taken to a hospital.
Medford Police officers say these two standoffs are part of a growing problem. They say their number of calls for suicidal threats are up 10 percent since 2011. And the number of calls for mental holds – in which someone poses a threat to themselves or someone else – has increased 19 percent. Police attribute these increases to the backlog in the Jackson County Mental Health department. Officers say it’s becoming clear people suffering from mental health problems are not getting the help they need.
“It has to do with the mental health services that are currently being provided here in Jackson County. I know that they are taxed, I know that they are an over-burdened system, but it appears not everyone’s needs are adequately being met,” said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau.
Calls to Jackson County Mental Health were not returned Wednesday.