Crisis Intervention Training held at Armstrong State University - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Crisis Intervention Training held at Armstrong State University

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week and Armstrong State University is wrapping up a Crisis Intervention Training on campus.

The goal for Wednesday’s event was to have a discussion about mental illness, provide information, and maybe dispel some myths about people who are mentally ill.

Lately, there have been high-profile cases with people with mental illness committing extremely violent acts. But leaders with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) said that’s actually rare.

"People with mental illness on the overall are not violent,” said Dave Lushbaugh, NAMI Northside Atlanta Chapter president and national board member.

Lushbaugh is a chapter president, and mental illness is all too personal for him. He has a family member with schizophrenia.

"It all boils down really to one statement: that what we are after as parents and friends of people with mental illness is we want treatment and services for people with mental illness, not jail,” said Lushbaugh.

District 1 Chatham County Commissioner Helen Stone agreed, she'd like to see these people get help, not time behind bars.

"I have had a concern about the number of mentally ill that we're currently housing in our local jail, it is not an appropriate place for these individuals, they're already in need of help, it's not fair to the staff at the jail, and they’re not trained," said Stone.

Now, 500,000 people in jails across the U.S. have a mental illness, including 1 in 6 people jailed in Georgia, according to Armstrong's police chief.

A SCMPD officer said that's the importance of Crisis Intervention Training.

"Those CIT officers are equipped with the skills to be able to de-escalate in those types of situations,” said Sgt. Hiram Rivera, SCMPD. "CIT officers are considered first and foremost responsive to those types of calls, so suicidal person calls, mental patient calls, persons with a knife, persons with a gun that are considered mental patients, or suicide calls; we dispatch CIT officers right away."

Officers said you can call them if you're ever in a crisis situation with someone dealing with mental issues.

"And we can definitely be the first step to getting other resources involved to getting people the help that they need,” said Sgt. Rivera.

And if you know someone who is dealing with mental health issues, click here to learn more about the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

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