Suicide hot line prank call highlights mental health services available to area families
By Kathryn Brenzel
December 30, 2012
A call confessing suicidal thoughts sent swarms of law enforcement descending on a house where they expected to possibly find a slain teenage girl and her father, who’d confessed to shooting her.
What they found was a 17-year-old Mansfield Township boy who’d invented the plot as a prank, police say.
The teen, later charged with creating false public alarm, allegedly called a Warren County suicide prevention hot line and said he’d shot his daughter and was thinking of turning the gun on himself. Several agencies responded, ultimately wasting resources and incurring overtime costs, said Mansfield Township police Lt. Michael Reilly.
The threshold of anonymity on suicide hot lines is crossed when the caller threatens harm to others or themselves. At that point, law enforcement is contacted, Reilly said.
“It puts everyone at risk because we don’t know what we’re responding to,” he said of the prank. “Everybody’s short on resources. Any major event, we all help each other out.”
The alleged joke highlighted the severity of making false reports, but it also showed how a county network can react to crises involving children and their families.
Communication between crisis intervention, law enforcement and other mental health agencies is key to quickly and accurately responding to situations, said Warren County Prosecutor Richard Burke.
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