Boise Police Ombudsman Pierce Murphy joined Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson Wednesday to call attention to an increase in suicide-related incidents—6,700 calls in total this year, up from 5,300 in 2008.
"I've been raising the awareness of these statistics for the past five years," said Masterson. "I'm not a scientist, but my best guess is these are numbers lagging from the Great Recession we were in."
Masterson's remarks came in the wake of Tuesday's report, filed by Murphy, concluding that Boise Police Officer Matt Jacobs responded within accordance of BPD's use of deadly force policy on May 31. That encounter left Troy Epperley dead in a "suicide by cop" situation, according to Murphy.
"It should come as no surprise that suicide is a growing problem in our community," said Murphy. "Increasing numbers of calls for service involve either someone who is suicidal, or someone who is at great risk."
Murphy announced that he would begin a review of BPD's crisis intervention protocol following the incident, slated to begin at the start of next year.
"The goal will be to make this highly effective model work even better for our community," said Murphy.
He said incidents involving deadly use of force greatly affect those involved, including the officer, a sentiment echoed by the police chief. Masterson said this was the first critical incident that resulted in a death since 2007, five years ago.
"We're grateful that the community has started a suicide prevention hot line," said Masterson. "We believe that it has already started to save lives."
Masterson introduced Nina Leary, who spoke to Boise Weekly just before the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, went live on Nov. 26. Leary said her own life had been saved by a hot line.
In the three weeks since the hot line went live, Leary estimates it has received 60 calls placed in Idaho, 10-15 percent of which were individuals contemplating suicide. She said some were in the 40-50 age range, but a few were in their late 20s.If you are someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.