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Simple techniques for suicide prevention are outlined in this professional procedures program for police officers which illustrates how to apply these techniques in different situations.
Successful suicides outnumber murders two to one and at least a hundred thousand people try to kill themselves each year. Their reasons may range from an inability to cope with being stranded in a strange town with three children and no money to being without a new dress for a school dance. People may also use suicide as a bid for sympathy and end up dead or seriously injured. Nearly 70 percent of suicide calls are false alarms; the patrol officers' first step, therefore, is to verify the call. Officers should try to size up the situation when they arrive at the scene and should check with the dispatcher and with friends and relatives to obtain information about the person and the problem involved. Improtant principles to remember in dealing with suicidal persons include staying calm, telling them you care and that you can help, and getting them to talk about their problems. Officers should be particularly wary of closed-door situations which may involve possible gas explosions or weapons use. They should follow department procedures for disposal of the case and should protect the suicide scene as though it were a case of suspected murder. Finally, the dispatcher can play a vital role in suicide prevention by remaining calm when taking a suicide call, playing for time, obtaining information, and summoning emergency services when needed.


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