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Before you call 911

If your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, you should be prepared to answer the following 6 Ws before you call 911. 

Where: The most important thing law enforcement can know is where you are located, don’t assume they can pick up the address location from a cellphone. 

Who: Who is the person who needs help? The dispatcher will ask you the name, age, ethnicity, and what the person you are calling for is wearing. If the police are responding to a home full of people, they need to be able to quickly identify who the call for service is for. 

What: Make sure you tell the officers that this is a psychiatric emergency. For example, if your loved one is hearing voices and is actively suicidal and in serious distress, make sure you tell the dispatcher. 

Why: Please reiterate that this is a mental health call and share if they have a formal diagnoses. 

When: Did the mental health crisis happen last night, this morning, or is it happening right now? 

Weapons: Be very clear to state if there are weapons involved in the mental health crisis. If a responding officer knows there are weapons involved, this may increase urgency in response time. Please do not exaggerate or give misinformation about weapons, as this could have dangerous outcomes.