Police did all they could
When a tragedy occurs, it can be hard to focus on all the things that were done right. In reference to the tragedy of the death by suicide in Duxbury this week, note should be made of the excellent efforts of the Vermont State Police.
There are several important roles in responding to a crisis such as this: public safety, the safety of the individual, and the safety of emergency responders. During the live news coverage, I heard the VSP spokesman said that they would take all the time needed to try to reach the best outcome. Mental health professionals were also called in to assist.
This kind of approach is exactly the focus of the state-sponsored training currently occurring around the state regarding intervention in a mental health crisis. Law enforcement and mental health teams are training jointly so they have optimal lines of communication to work together. In one such session I recently observed, there was a stress on taking the time to avoid unnecessary confrontations.
In Duxbury that night, it meant an added burden on local residents who could not access their homes. But a life was at stake.
Using the best training and best knowledge available will not always end with the outcome we hope for, but it clearly increases the odds of preventing an unnecessary death. In this situation, these best approaches were being used, and those involved should be recognized for their efforts.
Anne B. Donahue
The writer is the state representative for Northfield and Berlin and is on the Mental Health Oversight Committee.
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