Fargo Police say leaving suicidal situations is sometimes best option

FARGO, N.D. (KVLY) After the four-hour-long effort to get in contact with an armed suicidal man at a south Fargo apartment, Fargo Police say they decided the best way to deescalate the situation was to leave the scene Thursday night.

Deputy Chief Todd Osmundson says this tactic is something Fargo Police has done quite a few times as the department has received more mental health training over the years.

"Our best chance that the person will not hurt themselves is if, instead of knocking on the door with our guns drawn, we leave," Osmundson said in a phone interview this morning.

Osmundson says officers on Thursday night's scene talked with the suicidal man's family, who consulted with police to leave the apartment complex.

"A lot of times, we rely on the family because they have the best knowledge of the history with the subject," Osmundson said.

Osmundson also says there were several Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) officers on the scene 'to better communicate and understand the mental health situation.' He added that Fargo Police's main goal when on a call like Thursday's is 'to get that person help.'

Osmundson says the presence of law enforcement can sometimes make a situation more stressful for a subject in a mental health crisis. However, he says in those instances, officers are there to help and assist an individual, rather than get them in trouble.

However, just because police left last night's scene, does not mean that officers forgot about the man. Osmundson says Fargo Police will do follow-ups with the man and his family today, as well as in the coming days and 'hopefully have a good outcome to the situation.'

Osmundson also added that there is not a set way Fargo Police respond and handle mental health situations, as there are several different variables that need to be considered.

"We've got to do our best to help those people in dark places," he said.

Osmundson did not know if and when the residents of the apartment at Cheyenne Estates were allowed back into their homes. We also reached out to the apartment complex, but they have yet to respond.