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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Portlandia: It's to die for, cont'd

Last week, the Portland police released a heart-rending report detailing many recent calls to aid people whose mental illness had advanced to a dangerous state. There were a couple of suicides in the mix.

On Monday, they issued another one, just as awful. It too is worth reading, and we should ask ourselves why the city is focusing on bioswales and streetcars when its people's minds and souls are rotting away:

On Thursday October 4, at 10:02 p.m., Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to Northwest Couch Street and Broadway on the report of a woman jumping into traffic. Officers arrived and contacted the 36-year-old woman who told police she was trying to kill herself and that she'd just been released the previous day from a psychiatric hold.

Officers took the woman into protective custody and transported her to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

At 10:19 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the mid-span of the Burnside Bridge on the report that paramedics saw a man jump off the bridge into the water.

Portland Fire & Rescue responded in a boat and fetched the man out of the water then transported him to dock next to the Hawthorne Bridge.

Medical personnel treated the 44-year-old man for non-life-threatening injuries and transported him to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

On Friday October 5, at 8:00 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 2900 block of Southeast Washington Street on the report that a 49-year-old man was spraying water on a neighboring residence and that he was acting like he was on drugs or in a mental health crisis.

Officers arrived and made contact with the man who seemed very agitated and possibly suffering from excited delirium. Officers requested medical personnel immediately respond as well as additional officers.

Officers were able to get the man into custody after a struggle in which the man was kicking at biting at the police.

Medical personnel transported the man to an area hospital for a mental health evaluation.

At 8:25 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 3000 block of Southeast 75th Avenue on a suicidal male. The 23-year-old male agreed voluntarily to go to Cascadia Walk-In clinic for help. Later, officers returned to transport him to a local hospital on a mental health hold.

At 10:15 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 9400 block of Northeast Schuyler Street on the report of a suicidal female who had overdosed on pills.

Officers arrived and spoke to the 39-year-old female who voluntarily agreed to go with medical personnel to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

On October 6, at 7:56 a.m., North Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 3600 block of Northeast 120th Avenue on the report of a possible suicide. An email was sent to the Portland Police Bureau's Public Information Officer (PIO) by a 59-year-old man who stated that he did not want his family or friends to discover his body and he left specific instructions on how to get into his residence and where important paperwork would be located to contact family.

Officers went to the residence where they discovered that 59-year-old Patrick Halloran had used a firearm to commit suicide.

At 1:08 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 1700 block of Northeast 67th Avenue to cover medical personnel on a suicidal female who took her cat's medication.

Officers arrived and spoke to the 32-year-old woman. Police were concerned that she presented a danger to herself and took her into protective custody and transported her to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

At 4:37 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to the Grotto, located in the 8300 block of Northeast Sandy Boulevard, on the report of a suicide in the main parking lot.

Officers arrived and located 59-year-old Lee Schrom of Vancouver deceased in the parking lot. Officers learned that Schrom left a suicide note at his home and drove to the Grotto where he took his own life.

At 10:11 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 1500 block of Southeast Marion Street on the report that a 24-year-old man was threatening suicide and that he was armed with a shotgun. Officers arrived and made contact with the man by phone, who agreed to come outside and go to the hospital.

No guns were found at the location.

On Sunday October 7, at 7:19 p.m., North Precinct officers responded to the Jantzen Beach Moorage, located at 1715 North Jantzen Avenue, on the report of a prowler knocking on the door of a houseboat.

Officers arrived and attempted to make contact with the 23-year-old man but he jumped into the Columbia River Slough and climbed onto a jet ski tied to a dock.

The man told officers that he was having mental health issues but would not specify what those issues were. Portland Fire & Rescue responded with a rescue boat.

The man jumped back into the slough and for the next two hours swam under various floating homes and stayed away from rescuers. Portland Fire & Rescue and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Dive Teams responded and entered the water to attempt to rescue the man.

Officers also called for Project Respond and Crisis Negotiators to respond to the scene to assist in safely getting the man out of the water.

Portland Fire & Rescue cut a hole in the floor of a boat garage to retrieve the man from the water but he swam away so they cut a second hole and divers were able to push him towards the dock, where he was pulled out of the water and restrained.

The man told medical personnel that he'd taken a hallucinogenic and was taken to a local hospital for mental health treatment.

At 11:32 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the Crystal Ballroom, located at 1332 West Burnside Street, on a welfare check of a possibly suicidal 52-year-old male.

Officers learned from a friend of the man that he struggled with mental health issues, had been drinking alcohol and making statements about death.

Officers arrived and attempted to make contact with the man, who charged at the officers yelling, "Shoot me!" Officers were able to get the man handcuffed without incident and transport him to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

On Monday October 8, at 5:30 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the Shell gas station, located at 2800 Southwest Sam Jackson Park Road on the report of a man armed with "some sort of sharp instrument" trying to break into the gas station. Additional information was received by officers that the man grabbed an employee by the throat and that the man was armed with a knife and a pair of pliers.

The first officer arrived and saw the 69-year-old man standing in the doorway with something in his hand. The officer retrieved a less lethal shotgun and began giving the man commands to drop the item and get to the ground. The man initially dropped the item, later determined to be a knife, and got onto the ground. The man then got up and began approaching the officer, refusing repeated commands to stop and displaying indicators to the officer that the man was going to fight.

The officer fired a single less lethal beanbag round at the man, striking him in the upper right thigh. The man stopped walking towards the officer and put his hands on his hips. Additional officers arrived and took him into custody after having to take him to the ground using control holds.

After he was taken into custody, officers spoke with him and it became clear to the officers that the man was in some sort of mental health crisis. He was given citations for Harassment and Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree and transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Comments (18)

I stand by the comment I made last week...
The people we have running CoP these days see people with this kind of problem as one that when left alone, solves itself.

Negative attention on a national scale is the only thing that will fix it because that's the only thing they care about.

I base my opinion on personal family experience.

Two words: Mission Creep

Portland is too busy building Streetcars, placating the Bicycle Terrorism Alliance, bailing out Portland Public Schools, trying to expand into Vancouver, dealing in solar panels, developing parking lots (and operating parking lots), running luxury limo-bus tours of a lake in Mount Hood's shadow to a rustic lodge, building houses, erecting more neon light signs than Las Vegas or Times Square...than actually tending to the business of the city.

Police? We could use to kill off a few worthless citizens. Sewer pump stations? They can fail - after all Fanno Creek isn't in Portland. Street Maintenance? Studies show people drive slower on gravel roads. Sidewalks and crosswalks? Cars will drive slower if pedestrians are walking down the center of the street.

It's the police CYA and you can't blame them.

They can't enforce the law, it's not politically correct to arrest criminals, so they have to be counselors.

Encouraging weird leads to sick.

What's especially heart-wrenching are the calls that are some variation of "cops were called to deal with a suicidal man. The man told them that he had been released from a mental health hold. After a brief struggle, the officers transported him to a mental health hold." The services we have now are just barely able to keep most people treading water. This is not to knock them at all, but just a reflection of the inadequate services we have at our disposal.

Having worked in public welfare for 31 years, I can tell you that government mental health programs are highly controversial. Used to be that the visibly mentally ill were rounded up and sent off to public “hospitals” like Dammasch, but opinion changed and hospitalization was seen as ineffective and inhumane: Community mental health was the answer. Over the years, all sorts of tax money has been spent on “maintaining the chronically mentally ill in the community”, but since the mentally ill cannot be compelled, usually, to participate in the programs, it could almost be argued that it would be better to not have the programs at all. This is an extraordinarily difficult social problem with zero easy answers, one that most people just don’t want to think about, and there is no guarantee that even doubling mental health funding would make much difference.

What Isaak said.

Beyond that, though, it is disturbing that reportedly Oregon's suicide rate is 35% higher than the national average.

According to this chart, Wyoming is #1 and the District of Columbia #51. So, ranchers are depressed and politicians are chipper? Wtf?


Mr. Grumpy, I sympathize more than you know, as my own family had a similar issue this summer. (In our case, my sister was in the process of divorcing my brother-in-law, and when he discovered she wasn't going to subsidize his moving to Brooklyn or Portland, he came to the house with a gun. When he discovered that she nor their kids were there, he shot himself in the head on their bed.) I particularly feel not just for the police, but for anybody else caught up in the mess. Local services are overloaded. If there's any family in the area, it doesn't want to do anything, or it's already sent the person to Portland with a note asking "Don't write." The police should always be the last resort, but they're the first ones called because nobody wants to get involved. With this sort of dysfunctionality, how else are many of these heartbreaking tales supposed to end?

Sally, it's all about support mechanisms. In Wyoming, not only would trying to get help require being in an area with that support being available, but it would require having support of family and friends as well. It's not so much that DC has too many chipper people, but instead people who don't see asking for help as being a stigma. Let's just look at financial issues: if you were in the middle of the foothills near Laramie, how much less likely would you be to know someone who could offer assistance or advice than if you were in the middle of Washington?

Add to that the geographic isolation the ranchers feel as well as the long, cold, and dark winters (not to mention the financial difficulties inherent in ranching), and you could see why Wyoming would be #1.

Consider: Tribe turns to tradition to combat suicide


Efforts to forestall suicides today incorporate ceremonies conducted in the Arapaho language, talking circles, sweat lodges and involvement of elders, all woven together in a kind of community safety net.

Trained suicide interveners watch for early signs of trouble. Both the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone with whom they share the Wind River reservation have suicide prevention programs.

These efforts have been largely successful.

In 2009, an 18-year-old woman shot herself to death in Arapahoe, according to records of the Fremont County coroner. Before that, a young person had not died by suicide since 2003, when a 10-year-old Fort Washakie boy killed himself.

Between 2000 and 2010, 116 people in Fremont County killed themselves. Twenty-seven, or 23 percent, were American Indian.


A year ago, Northern Arapaho elders were called upon to help stop a suicide outbreak claiming the lives of young people on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

“The way it was done, it was low key. There was no press, no news,” Crawford White said. “It was kept quiet.”

At a powwow later in Denver, a tearful Lakota man thanked the Northern Arapahos for their help.

Even more recently, people at the Crow Creek reservation of South Dakota contacted Arapaho elders to help them break another cycle of suicides.

Nelson White Sr. said news media often pounce on the negative, but there are many young people who have walked away from the darkness, hold jobs and have finished school.

Traditional ceremonies, community, spiritual wellness — it’s all tied together. “We’re a family. We take care of each other,” Crawford White said.

That’s no big deal. Homeless, mental health guru Saint Flake Nick Jelly Fish has those problems covered. The council has much more important items on their agenda, such as expanding the plastic bag ban.

I believe it was under Lyndon B Johnson and the Great Society that people were to be dislodged from the "bins" and treated in the community, however, there was supposed to be some sort of government funding to help all that along, and it didn't materialize. What is scarier to me is the level of rage going on whether the person is mentally ill or not. Fueled by drugs and alcohol, a lousy economy, loss of a home base, a bad relationship,all these seem to be the tipping point. While the police have flaws, they are the best defence we have when there are only seconds on the timeclock when events happen.

I completely forgot about the American Indian population in Wyoming. No. 2 on the list, though, was Alaska. Oregon was No. 7.

Nancy, to my recall it was during Reagan that community incorporation replaced involuntary incarceration. There were good reasons for this. It was too easy in those days to lock up people on a couple of other people's say-so for nearly, or truly, eternal periods of time. I think a lot of them were women. I recollect most all of the women were mothers. Just one of those little factoids that stuck in my brain.

And now we have .... what Isaak said we have. For better sometimes and worse others.

It is never going to be a problem effectively addressed by police. They are the final step. They hate it.

I have to admit I was kind of impressed somebody could stay in the water in the Slough for over two hours. Sad story but impressive endurance.

Nancy and Sally: According to a govt report called something like progress and pain, JFK proposed releasing people from the horrors of the then mental institutions because new therapies and drugs meant they could be treated in the community.
The idea was in the 1963 State of the Union. Kennedy, of course, was killed in the same year, and Johnson pushed the legislation through. It was seen as a humane reform because life in the asylums was so brutal. But of course putting people on the street without their faculties required many more support programs than existed at the time, and which the mental health professionals who supported the releases thought could be easily done. They were wrong.
So presidentially it was Kennedy, Johnson and Reagan who messed up mental health.

Ken Kesey helped, perhaps unwittingly.

And yet, they will only hire Military guys for the entry level jobs. Hmmm.

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

(Woody Allen)

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