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Some signs police look for in psychiatric crises

Thursday - 4/10/2014, 12:06pm  ET

In this image taken from video on Jan. 15, 2014, from left, Lower Merion police officers Edward Sarama and Robert McGuire try to talk to Lower Merion officer Matt Dougherty, seated right in blue, who is pretending to be mentally ill, during a training simulation at Montgomery County Emergency Service in Norristown, Pa. Talking in Dougherty's ears to simulate voices in his head are course instructor Michelle Monzo and Lower Merion Township officer Joe Smith. The training is designed to help police recognize and respond to people suffering from serious mental illness, potentially reducing injuries to officers and the mentally ill as well as the frequency of arrests. (AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam)

The Associated Press

Police officers who receive crisis intervention training are taught how to recognize when someone with serious mental illness might be having a psychiatric crisis. Considering the overall circumstances, police look for these behaviors in a subject:

-- Behavior that doesn't fit the circumstance (example: laughing at a funeral)

-- Non-verbal and easily distracted

-- Bizarre and disjointed thinking (delusions, hallucinations)

-- Suicidal

-- Normal coping skills are failing or not evident

-- Unaware of self; dirty, disheveled, malodorous

-- Unaware of surroundings and possible risk to personal safety

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Source: Donald Kline, Montgomery County Emergency Service in Pennsylvania


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