If you have a loved one with bipolar disorder, then you need to be concerned about the police.  Should your loved one go into a manic episode and become violent, you may have to call the police, and if they don't know that your loved one has a mental illness, things could get out of hand quickly.

 

Sometimes people with bipolar disorder are shot and even killed by the police.  There are headlines that even prove it.

 

Following are actual headlines taken right out of the newspapers:

 

·         46-year-old Bipolar Man Shot and Killed by Officers

·         Man Killed by Cops was Bipolar

·         Inquest into Police Shooting Death of Bipolar Man

 

There was also a headline about a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed by the police.  In this case, I know the whole story, because this young man is related to someone who works for me.

 

The young man's name was Jake.  He had a small knife, was surrounded by a squad of policemen, and they just shot first, without attempting to subdue him.

Unfortunately, what the headlines didn’t say was that Jake had bipolar disorder and was in a manic episode at the time because he hadn’t been taking his medication.

Being familiar with bipolar disorder because of having a loved one with the disorder, you do understand that while in a manic episode, your loved one is not in their right mind. They aren’t thinking rationally.  Who knows if Jake even understood what was happening to him?

Even if your loved one has never been violent before, there may come a time during a manic episode when they do, and they become a threat to you or themselves.  You may become so afraid that you have to involve the police.

In my opinion, there still hasn’t been enough education in the community and in police departments to necessarily keep them from killing a person in a bipolar episode rather than just subduing them first and getting them the help they need.

Probably the most important thing you need to know is this:  Should you have to call the police due to your loved one's behavior, STAY (if at all possible) until the police arrive, so that you can explain to them that your loved one has bipolar disorder.  In many states, it will make the difference between your loved one going to the hospital or going to jail.

If there is some reason you cannot stay, then at least make sure that when you do call the police, you tell them that they will be dealing with someone who has bipolar disorder.  Again, it may mean the difference between your loved one going to the hospital or going to jail.  Many times, the police will bring with them a mental health professional who will help them assess the situation and /or your loved one’s condition.

Unfortunately, Jake did not have this luxury.  Had there been a mental health professional on the scene, he may have stood a better chance of living.

As a supporter, I’m sure you would rather see your loved one get the help they need rather than go to jail or be shot just for being in a bipolar episode.