Courts & Crime

Why the increase in suicide calls, Boise asks

March 1, 2010, was the day it became clear to Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson that his department faced a vexing problem.

By the time the day was over, Boise police had to send out the SWAT team to deal with a man with a gun, use a Taser on another man reaching for a knife, and convince an Iraq War vet to drop a knife he was holding to his throat in the lobby of a mental health facility.

Meanwhile, a man from Texas called police to report his ex-girlfriend, who lives in Boise, texted him pictures of her slit wrists. Officers and emergency medical responders found her and got her to a hospital.

All four calls were for suicidal subjects. All required multiple officers to take time away from other calls or investigating crimes — and they were just four of 878 such calls police had to deal with in 2010.

More than half of those suicidal subjects were armed and many required multiple officers — including the SWAT team.

The costs — and the potential dangers — add up.

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