After responding to a suicide attempt with the University Police Department about a month ago, Ball State’s Alive Campaign, a student suicide prevention and awareness group, partnered with Meridian Health Services to train local officers.
“We weren’t really happy with the way they responded,” said Carmen Diaz, executive director of Alive. “The process was quick and he was treated more like a criminal.”
Diaz said she took offense to the way UPD officers spoke to the individual, standing over him and harshly questioning him.
“I didn’t feel proud to witness it as the leader of a suicide prevention group,” she said.
The individual declined to speak to the Daily News.
Diaz said she began looking for a way to be sure local police are trained in crisis response the same way she was trained, to treat those who need help with compassion instead of with the negative stigmas associated with suicide.
“The police get a lot of training, so they are commendable for that, and what they do is amazing,” Diaz said. “But there is a strong stigma between the help-seeking activity [after a suicide attempt] because they are afraid of being treated like a criminal.”
Diaz and Meridian Health Services, a health services group that focuses on treating the whole person, not just physical wounds, began a 40 hour week-long training with Delaware County police and UPD on May 3.
The Daily News was unable to contact UPD.
“It’s really cool to see that happen,” Diaz said. “Trainings are costly and we are lucky to get them for free here at Ball State. Anyone can advocate for this; some people are afraid because there is such a big role to play. But just let them know they are never alone, and let them know there is help.”