CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers saved the life of someone who was having a mental health crisis.
Editor's Note: The following story discusses suicide. Reader discretion is advised.
Video shows the officer talking the person through the situation. Through intervention, the man stepped away and CMPD started treating him.
"The first officers that responded did a fantastic job," Captain Matthew Horner with CMPD said.
Horner said in addition to the tools learned in the Police Academy, mental health training is also stressed.
"De-escalation is one of those things that when we can do it, we will absolutely do it," Horner said. "Our officers go through 40 hours of CIT training."
In Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), officers learn de-escalation tactics and learn signs to look for if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
"They have role players come in, they have scenarios and learn how to deal with different levels or crisis and different types of interactions with people," Horner said.
Kati Durkee, marketing and outreach coordinator with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)said this life-saving training is critical for anyone.
"They are open, the people on the front line of situations like this," Durkee said. "Somebody in a mental health crisis can look like someone in a diabetic crisis, someone who is dealing with addiction.”
Durkee said data showed thoughts of suicide among people are in the rise. According to the CDC, in 2021, suicide was the second leading cause of death or people ages 10-14 and 20-34. Durkee said there's a first step to finding a solution.
"The more we talk about suicide, the more likely we are to prevent a suicide," Durkee said. "The recommendation from everyone in mental health and prevention will tell you having those conversation is the best way to stop someone from ending their life.”
She said the stigma around suicide makes it difficult to talk about, and at times, people are discouraged from talking about it.
“If I am just used to talking about it, this one doesn’t seem as scary and high stakes and hard to have," Durkee said.
If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.
WCNC Charlotte is teaming up with medical professionals on Sept. 26 at 12:30 p.m. EDT to answer questions, share resources and discuss how to help prevent suicide.