Calling 911 for Mental Health Emergency: What do you say?

Posted on November 22, 2017

Photo: flickr

When self-harm, suicidal risk or violence is evident, calling 911 is the best intervention. But how exactly do you go about it? What kind of things should you say? There's also always the fear of making things worse for the affected individual.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends these few tips for anyone who finds themselves caught in this situation.

1. When calling 911, remaining calm and making the call out of earshot from your loved one is vital. After you are connected, identify yourself and the location at which the incident is taking place.

2. Describe the nature of the mental health emergency so that the appropriate emergency teams can be dispatched to the scene. "My brother, Dan, is threatening suicide. He is in his room and the door is locked."

3. Be ready to give more information about the emergency. Such as the name, gender, height, weight, race, clothing being worn, or other identifying data. You should also provide information on whether there are any weapons in the location and if there have been any access to prescribed medication or any other lethal means.

4. It would also be helpful if you identify yourself and your relationship to your loved one. Answering the questions of the dispatcher will help determine which emergency response team is needed for the crisis. Communities usually have Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to situations like these.

5. Be prepared to stay on the phone with the dispatcher whilst an emergency team makes it's way over.


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Source material from Dr. Deb


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