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Crisis Situation


EMERGENCY?  Call 911

There are many reasons why you might call 911. The following is a partial list of the primary mental health and psychological emergencies that 911, police and EMS handle.

Suicidal behavior. When there is evidence of intent or an immediate risk of suicide.

Self-harming behavior. When there is evidence of intent or an immediate risk of physical harm.

Strange, unusual or disorganized behavior. When there is behavior that may be dangerous or the result of a medical emergency or health problem.

Violent behavior.When there has been violence or there is evidence of an immediate risk of violence.

In Pasco County, there are a limited number of specially trained deputies who work with the mentally ill and their families.  They are called CIT Officers (Crisis Intervention Team)–be sure to request CIT officers if they are available!

When calling 911, it is absolutely essential that you cooperate with the dispatcher. This means you should listen and answer their questions. Don’t argue when they insist that you answer certain questions. They are trained to ask specific questions and to respond in a particular manner. There are reasons. Don’t worry if you are upset. 911 dispatchers are experienced and trained to deal with people who are distressed or in a panic.


When a serious crisis occurs your first response should be to call 911. But what do you do until help arrives? The following guidelines may prove helpful:

Stay calm. Accept the fact that the mentally ill person is in an altered state of reality. If you are alone, call someone to remain with you until help arrives.

Trust your instincts. If you, too, feel frightened or panic-stricken, the situation calls for immediate action. Remember, your primary task is to help the mentally ill person regain control. Do nothing to further agitate the scene.

Don’t threaten. This may be interpreted as a power play by the mentally ill person and increase fear or prompt violent behavior.

Don’t shout. If the mentally ill person seems not to be listening, it isn’t because he or she is hard of hearing. Other “voices” are probably interfering or predominating.

Don’t criticize. It will only make matters worse.

Don’t squabble with other family members. Arguing over which strategies are best or placing blame is not helpful. This is not the time to prove a point.

Don’t bait the person in crisis. If you challenge them to carry out their wild threats the consequences could be tragic.

Don’t stand over the person in crisis. If he or she is seated, then sit also.

Avoid direct, continuous eye contact or touching the person in crisis. Comply with requests that are neither endangering nor beyond reason. This provides the person with an opportunity to feel somewhat “in control.”

Don’t block the doorway. However, do keep yourself between the person and an exit.

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