Elgin OPP alarmed after rash of suicide calls

Elgin OPP responded to five incidents involving suicide Friday and Saturday. All involved men. One person didn't survive. Another suffered life threatening injuries.

Police urge people to call for help when they're struggling

Reach Out is a 24/7 line for people to call or webchat if they're in need of mental health, addiction or crisis support. (Reach Out)

It's alarming. That's how mental health professionals describe five suicide calls within 25 hours in Elgin County. 

Police got the first call at about 7 p.m. Friday. A man's body was found in the Kettle Creek River near the lift bridge in Port Stanley. 

On Saturday, there was a call of a suicide attempt at 12:30, also in Port Stanley. A 28-year-old man was rushed to hospital with life threatening injuries. 

Five hours later, police responded to a call about a man in distress in the area of East Beach in Port Burwell. In that case, police were able to negotiate with the man and take him to hospital where he was admitted. He did not suffer any injuries. 

Two more calls came Saturday evening.

A 58-year-old man suffered burns in an incident in Bayham at about 7 p.m. An hour later, police received a call about a 32-year-old man who was suicidal in the area of Richmond Road and John Wise Line. He was apprehended under the mental health act and admitted to hospital without injury. 

"It's typical for us to go to threats of suicide calls or mental health calls," said OPP Const. Adam Crewdson. "It's not typical for us to get five such calls within a 24 hour period." 

Police don't usually issue news releases about suicide. But, in this case Crewdson said, they want to remind the public that there are services out there to help people in distress. 

"We need to have these discussions," he said. "As a community we have resources in place that are available 24 hours a day if you're in a crisis." 

Resources available 

Alex Paterson understands why people don't reach out. She's a mental health response worker with St. Thomas Police. 

"Obviously there's a certain stigma attached to things like that," she said. "It's hard to have intrusive thoughts of wanting to kill yourself. It's just a very difficult thing to not only talk about but also a very difficult thing for people to hear. So people have a hard time telling a loved one how they're feeling because those thoughts are scary."

Paterson said, people also feel alone. But, she said, they're not. 

Police recommend people call Reach Out, which is a 24/7 phone service for individuals experiencing mental health concerns, addictions, or crisis. The line can be contacted by calling (519) 433-2023 or toll free at 1-866-933-2023.

Other services including walk-in support are available through the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"If you can chat a bit with someone it can lessen those feelings and lessen the intrusiveness of the thoughts you're having, but it can also normalize them so you don't feel so alone," said Paterson.