Police Combine Mental Health MO Life Saving – Lowell Sun

Mackenzie Deziek, who is training at the Lowell Police Department as a collaborative response clinician to assist with calls that may need a mental health response, and Lowell Police Officer Rafael Rivera, one of the officers she will be working with . SUN/Julia Malaki

Another successful mission, a coordinated effort between a local police department and its mental health partner.

That’s essentially how Tyngsboro Police Chief Richard Howe described it when he recently announced that TPD members rescued a suicidal man from the Tyngsboro Bridge.

Howe said that around 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Tyngsboro Police Communications Specialist Bonnie Murray received a call from a suicidal man who said he was on the bridge and needed help.

Sergeant Kenneth Healy and Officers Charles Rubino and Evan Donnelly responded and found the man. They told him they were there to help and would provide him with whatever help and support he needed.

According to police, officers maintained contact with the man until an ambulance arrived. He was then transported to a hospital for proper care.

After the incident, police said they notified their local mental health partner, the Front-Line Initiative, a regional mental health collaborative that provides resources to police and civilians to address mental health crises and substance abuse disorders.

This troubled person will now get the mental health support they need.

“This was an excellent job by all involved and we are very happy that this gentleman decided to get the help he needed. I want to congratulate Sgt. Healy, Officer Rubino and Officer Donnelly for de-escalating the situation and using care and compassion to show this person that help is available,” Howe said.

“I also want to acknowledge Communications Specialist Murray who stayed on the line with the man almost the entire time and worked to de-escalate the situation using his EMS training used by dispatchers in these types of high stress situations,” he added. the boss.

This wasn’t the first time Officer Donnelly helped prevent a possible suicide on the Tyngsboro Bridge.

We know of at least one other case. In April 2021, he and Officer Timothy Sullivan were called to the bridge for a report of someone on the outer rail of the section.

As in the most recent case, the delicate matter of removing the potential jump from danger preceded any mental health assistance.

Officer Sullivan was the first to arrive on the scene and eventually observed someone, later described as a 19-year-old female, standing on the outside of the railing on the north side of the bridge.

According to Sullivan’s incident report, he grabbed the person by the right shoulder across the chest and under the left arm, pinning their shoulder against his torso before lifting her up and over the railing, eventually taking her to the sidewalk.

Officer Donnelly then arrived and helped subdue the screaming, suicidal woman.

She was placed in soft restraints on a stretcher and taken to Lowell General Hospital for involuntary mental health treatment, according to the police report.

Armed with the training provided by the Front Line Initiative, the first action Officers Sullivan and Donnelly took after rescuing this 19-year-old woman was to notify a mental health clinician affiliated with FLI.

A collaborative program used by Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro police, the Front Line Initiative could serve as a national model for how law enforcement should respond to mental health and substance abuse crises.

This regional combination has been praised for saving the five communities hundreds of thousands in medical and legal costs by diverting troubled individuals from the legal system to the mental health system.

Other regional police departments are using equally effective methods to identify mental health issues in individuals who would otherwise end up in the court or prison system.

The Lowell Police Department’s Joint Response Jail Diversion Program has proven its worth.

LPD employs two full-time jail diversion clinicians who work with police officers to divert people from custody to get the mental health help they need.

These master’s degree clinicians with experience in mental health needs often ride alongside staff to provide on-site de-escalation, risk assessment, psychiatric assessments and referrals to levels of care.

Their behavioral insights also steer people away from unnecessary emergency room visits, resulting in significant savings for the health care system.

But we see real savings in the end in the many timely interventions that predetermine the tragic outcome.

Police encourage anyone experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts to call 988 to speak to a professional for support.

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