Surrey RCMP attend more than 3,000 mental health calls in first half of 2021

FROM January to June, 2021, Surrey RCMP officers attended 3,064 calls related to the Mental Health Act, including 862 calls to assist suicidal people.

Police officers are often the first on scene to assist when someone is suffering from a mental health crisis. When responding to situations where a person in crisis is threatening to harm themselves or others, the safety of all individuals, including officers, is a top priority, says Surrey RCMP.

Specialized training for police includes crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques. Attempting to de-escalate and assist someone in crisis can take a matter of minutes, or in some cases, it takes hours of careful negotiations. The goal is always to intervene in the safest way possible to get the person the medical assistance required.

A recent example of a police response to a distraught person occurred on May 5, when frontline officers responded to a man threatening to kill himself. Officers located the man just before 11 p.m. sitting outside a business in Whalley, holding a knife to his throat. The Car 67 team was called to assist, and the nurse was able to provide information to officers to assist with the hour-long negotiations. The man eventually dropped the knife. He was safely apprehended under the Mental Health Act and brought to the hospital.

The Surrey RCMP work in partnership with Fraser Health through the Car 67 program, which pairs police officers with psychiatric nurses in response to mental health calls. With the available resources, Car 67 attended 338 calls for service from January to June 2021. Car 67 is part of the Police Mental Health Resource Team, an enhanced policing model where police work in collaboration with health and community partners to help those facing mental illness, homelessness or addiction.

Surrey RCMP urge all community members to reach out to a health care provider as soon as possible if they or a family member is experiencing mental health concerns. There is a Fraser Health Crisis Line available 24 hours that can be reached at 604-951-8855 or 1-877-820-7444.

For more information on Car 67 and the Police and Mental Health Outreach Team, visit the Surrey RCMP website.